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S. Korean pottery fete to shed light on mother of Japan's Arita ware

All Headlines 15:52 October 11, 2016

GIMHAE, South Korea, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -- A Korean ceramic artisan revered for helping give birth to Japan's first domestic porcelain production will take the center stage at an annual pottery festival to be held this week in the southeastern city of Gimhae, the municipality said Tuesday.

At the Gimhae Buncheong Ceramics Festival, which will open on Saturday and will run through Oct. 23, organizers will feature Baek Pasun (1560-1656), a legendary female potter who blazed the trail for what is now known as Arita ware in Japan, along with Korean potter Yi Sam-pyeong.

Baek, who hailed from the South Korean city and was the first female pottery expert in the 1392-1910 Joseon Dynasty, and her husband and a Gimhae potter, Kim Tae-do, were captured by Japanese soldiers and taken to the town of Takeo near Arita in what is now Japan's Saga Prefecture in the late 16th century, when Japan invaded the Korean Peninsula.

According to historical records, Baek moved to Arita with about 900 Korean potters after her husband died, making a tremendous contribution to the development of Arita ware, which marked the 400 anniversary of its birth. She remained in Arita, a city on Japan's southwestern main island of Kyushu, as the leader of pottery making until her death at 96, establishing herself as the mother of Arita ware.

This undated file photo shows a monument to Korean ceramic artisan Baek Pasun inside the premises of Houon Temple in Arita, known to have been erected by one of her grandsons in 1705, in the city of Arita on Japan's southwestern main island of Kyushu. (Yonhap)

A monument to her inside the premises of Houon Temple in Arita, known to have been erected by one of her grandsons in 1705, testifies to her contribution to the Japanese pottery culture.

The Japanese industry in Arita opened Gallery Baekpasun, an exhibition hall on ceramic products, in honor of her achievements and Japan-Korea relations that she had founded.

During the 10-day festival, organizers plan to hold a memorial on Saturday to pay tribute to Baek and other Korean potters who were kidnapped to Japan during warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invasion of the peninsula. Descendants of the Korean potter and the chief of the gallery, Hitoshi Kubota, are scheduled to take part in the memorial. Kubota had led a society of people who study about Baek in Japan.

It marks the first time for her descendants to visit the annual pottery festival.

This undated photo, provided by the Gimhae municipality on Oct. 11, 2016, shows the facade of Gallery Baekpasun, an exhibition hall on ceramic products, in the city of Arita on Japan's southwestern main island of Kyushu. (Yonhap)

Lee Han-gil, head of a pottery association in Gimhae, said, "It is meaningful to seek the origin of Gimhae pottery by making Baek Pasun as the festival's main theme. Baek, who is better known in Japan, is our ancestor and a pride of the region, the mecca for Buncheong ware, or a form of traditional Korean stoneware with a bluish-green tone.

namsh@yna.co.kr
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