Strange Patina on an Aged Glazed Pot

Patina always makes a pot more desireable, and it is difficult to find bonsai pots with nice patina in North America. So, when I was digging for pots at Aichi-en Nursery in Nagoya this winter, I was looking for unique pots that showed some age.

This is an approximately 80 year old Japanese pot. The patina is very strange. It is not at all uniform, being much heavier on one side of the pot than the other. The patina even extends inside the pot!

How could this have happened? I discussed this with Peter Tea, and we came to the conclusion that it must have been partially buried for a long time (with no tree in it). The buried part of the pot will not develop patina nearly as well as the part that is exposed to the elements.

The pot itself is nothing special. Despite not having a stamp, we can tell it is about 80 years old because of the style and quality (or lack thereof). Early in the 20th century, Japanese potters typically put little effort into bonsai pots. After all, why should they create a masterpiece if it was just going to be filled with dirt? As a result, it “rocks” when sitting on a flat surface. The narrow width of the pot is also characteristic of the time, and makes the pot less usable and therefore less valuable today. However, I’m sure I can find a collected potentilla in my yard that will slip into this quite nicely.

Nevertheless, I was happy to pick up this pot because it was inexpensive. Most pots of this age with such mature patina are way beyond my price range.

The "waviness" of this pot is typical of hastily made Japanese pots of the time.

Glazed pots typically develop patina more slowly than unglazed pots. The complexity that patina adds to the finish makes a pot truly one of a kind, and echoes the patina carried by old bonsai.

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