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Celebrating a Special Bowl

As a supplement to its story about the yard-sale bowl that fetched its owners more than 700,000 times what they had paid for it, The New York Times invited its readers to submit their favorite bowls last week.

One of the contributors was Washington and Lee alumnus Hal Higginbotham, of the Class of 1968. He wrote about the chawan, a bowl used in a Japanese tea ceremony, that he and his wife had given earlier this year to Washington and Lee’s Senshin’an Japanese Tea Room. The bowl is part of a set of commissioned chawan and other tea objects and is by Phil Rogers, a contemporary Welsh potter.

Hal’s description of the bowl in The Times included his view of its particular value as an object used by students at W&L. He wrote:

This chawan displays a beautiful use of hakeme decoration along with a small series of iron brush strokes. The classic form and simple decoration highlight this potter’s extraordinary skills in letting the very essence of the work and the kiln’s magic tell the story. What I like best about this piece is the knowledge that this object of singular beauty lives in a setting where it will be used by students in perfecting their own mastery of the tea ceremony. In that sense, it is not just a museum object on a shelf, worthy though it is of that, but also an object of sincere utility.