Zen imagery of the in iron of the motif Triangle, circle and square decorate the frothy white glaze on this Shino Chawan by important artist Wakao Toshisada enclosed in the original signed wooden box. A superb example of his tea bowls, it is 12.5 cm (5 inches) diameter,9.5 cm (4 inches) tall and in excellent condition. The tri-part symbol is famous from the Sengai Gibon Zen scroll of the 18th century. DT Suzuki in his interpretation of Sengai says: Sengai was familiar with Shingon, the mantra sect of Buddhism, as well as Zen. He liked Shingon because it taught the identity of the bodily existence (rupakaya) with ultimate reality (dharmakaya). The bodily existence is here represented by a triangle which symbolizes the human body in its triple aspect, physical, oral (or intellection), and mental (or spiritual). The quadrangle represents the objective world which is composed of the four great elements (mahabhuta), earth, water, fire and air. The Dharmakaya, the ultimate reality, is the circle here, that is, the formless form. As is often the case in Japanese art, here the artist has shown us two of the three images, allowing us to complete the triad in our minds eye.
Wakao Toshisada was born in Tajimi, Gifu prefecture, home of Mino pottery, in 1933. He was first recognized at the New Crafts exhibition of 1960, the same year he was first exhibited at the Central Japan Art Exhibition. Three years later he made his debut at the Asahi Ceramics Exhibition, following in 1965 with the National Traditional Crafts Exhibition. In 1971 he first exhibited with the Nihon Togeiten (All Japan Ceramics Exhibition) and was awarded the following year the New Mino Artists Prize, gathering acclaim as a leader in the field. After many domestic and International exhibits, he was awarded the Kato Kohei prize in 1986. and was recipient of the prestigious Japan Ceramics Society (JCS) Award in 1989. He was named an intangible cultural asset of Tajimi city in 1995, and of Gifu Prefecture in 2003, and works by the artist are held in the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, V&A, Freer Gallery and Sackler among many others.