Idle Chat about Korean (Kourai) Tea Bowls (2)
by TANI Akira Curator of the Nomura Museum of Fine Art

The Origin of the Name “Soba (Buckwheat)”
Unlike totoya tea bowls, here are not different types of soba tea bowls. A soba bowl’s is short compared to the width of it’s mouth, and it’s sides are level. The outer part of the foot is whittled down to a width of a few milimeters, and the bowl’s waist is narrow. Generally, the glaze covering it is thin. A glaze the colour of a pale loquat is common, but some of them are coloured a blue, and there are bowls that seem to have the glaze for half the body substitue the the blue colour for loquat colour.
An explaination on the origin of the name “soba” comes from it being “ido no soba” (lit. near the ido), in it resembles an ido tea bowl. In fact, the paper inside the box of the soba chawan called “Fujinami” held in the repository of the Nomura Museum says that that tea bowl is as an ido bowl. If one looks at it with modern eyes, it would be little thought of as a type of ido chawan, but formerly the generally idea of an ido bowl was probably a bit different than in modern times.
Finally, there are black spots scattered inside the soba bowl, the name “soba” is explained as these spots resemble the sediment of buckwheat. Anyhow, the truth of the matter is we don’t know why there is different name for a bowl of such similar type as the totoya.

Investigating Kiln Markings
There are those who say True Totoya have characteristics of chawan made in the area of Hoeryŏng of North Korea. Those characteristics are a solid foot and that inside and the area around the foot are left unglazed. Since we cannot do feild excavations to investigate the Hoeryŏng theory as the area currently is controlled by North Korea, we really cannot make a judgement. But we can identify characteristics that resemble chawan from the first period of karatsu.
In any event, as soba and totoya chawan look comparitively alike, we often find fragments of them with kiln markings from the Gyeongsangnam-do in the west to Jeollanam-do in the east.
However, even the Wakan Kiln of Pusan managed by the Tsushimi Province is thought to have made both totoya and soba bowls. As for works handed down unto today, it is thought likely that many of them are artefacts from Wakan Kiln.
Furthermore, according to excavation reports, totoya and soba have been found at a large quantity of archaeological excavations in Japan . Actually, looking at excavated fragments, their condition is fairly different from the totoya and soba of chanoyu. The reason why is that the lead archaeologist classifies a bowl mainly by the treatment of the foot and it’s shape, but in chanoyu we consider the whole feeling of the chawan. Thus even when seeing a nearly completely intact artefact we often cock our head thinking “Is this really a soba chawan?”The veiwpoint of an archaeologist–who considers the technical characteristics of the fragments–and the veiwpoint of chanoyu enthusitist–whose classification considers not only the general shape and colour, but the feeling of the bowl–are different. It’s likely this difference that brings about such a result.