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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tea-bowl for Rickie Louis Miller, #11 of 36, "Peace"

     "This project is friendship tea,
      Not about objects, or pottery."

The photos are getting a little sharper and better balanced for color. By the time I get to the end of this project I'll master the art of white balance! I'll be going back and replacing some of the photos earlier in the series.

This is a Shino-glazed hand-built stoneware tea-bowl, wood-fired to Cone 10.

This is the 11th out of 36 in total that I'm posting here on the blog, and giving away. All of these are from the same firing, in which I loaded 41 bowls in all. There were some that cracked, feet welded to their wadding, or are unusable. This one goes to Rickie Louise Miller, a talented muse and singer, with a huge career ahead of her. I hope it brings her peace.


I return to this post to speak a little about the number 11. A noble number, composed of 1's. I'll ramble more on the numerics of 11 later. For now I'd like to focus on the reading in the I Ching.

Why all this attention to the I Ching? Good question.

My college sweetheart introduced me to the Richard Wilhelm edition of this great classic, and ever since that day I've studied it. I won't say religiously, rather synchronously, for synchronicity is the make and mettle of the I Ching.

Once I realized I was organizing the cups that came out of the kiln into perfect squares, and the results from this firing fit into a 6 x 6 square, or 36, I realized the affinity with the I Ching. The I Ching, with its 8 x 8 or 64 individual readings, offers a second reading in combination with a change line. The total combination of hexagrams in one reading becomes 64 x 64, or 4096.

Once the individual change lines are factored in the number of possible readings becomes astronomic.

Those of you not familiar with the I Ching may not be following this. The important thing is that the I Ching is an ancient Taoist text, a source of wisdom, an oracle that evolved in China perhaps as much as 4800 years ago. The oracle is read as 'hexagrams', pictures, formed with lines, either broken or whole, that are divided into groups of six. 2 to the sixth power is 64.

The oracle is divined by throwing coins, or traditionally, yarrow sticks. Depending on the throw, one or two hexagrams are indicated, depending on any change lines.

Similarly with the cups. Yes there are 36 of these. But each of these cup can only be seen in 180 degrees at a time. To enjoy it you have to turn it. Counting 1 side we have 36 readings. Two sides, 64. Looking at all the detail on the sides, infinite.

Remember I did not make the detail on the sides of these cups. The fire did. I merely made a form for the fire to work upon.

Having done this I realized that the deployment of these pots was a synchronous act.

The synchronous principle then may be the link between Tao and Tantra!

So with great confidence I'll be using using some of these cups to indicate an I Ching reading going forward.


The 11th hexagram of the I Ching depicts 'Peace'.

It's a calming image. One of harvested crops, food aplenty. The world is still.

Suppose we assign the other side of this cup to the I Ching reading for 11 + 36, or 47.

The 47th reading in the I Ching is 'Kwan', 'Oppression' or 'Exhaustion'.

11 and 47 are both prime numbers. Their difference is 36.

Cup #11 therefor reads, Peace becoming Exhaustion, or Oppression.

What a fitting epithet for our modern world. We are so lucky here in the West. We're free. Free of starvation, extreme want, famine, and war. Yes poverty is a growing menace in America, but we have it good here. All know this. Life isn't totally fair. But it's as fair here as anywhere. It's a good place to be.

But like all things peaceful, times change. We become tired, exhausted. Perhaps we're out of ideas.


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