Tombo - Dragonfly

The Japanese title of this tool is Tombo; in English is “Dragonfly”. The dragonfly’s history is confined to Japan, where it is used to measure the diameter and depth of bowls, cups, and plates in order to produce series of vessels of the same basic dimensions. It can be considered as an adjustable template.

Oriental potters choose this tool out of the many other measuring tools in use today for its lightness, affordability, adjustability, ease of use and charm.  You can set a dragonfly for the measurements of one pot, then put it aside, and then use again whenever need. It is common for potters to have several preset dragonflies sitting by their wheel for use as needed.  

1.  The height is adjustable by passing the dowels through one or another of the vertically arranged holes. The diameter can be changed by choosing different dowels. 2.  If the pot becomes too high during forming, the top can be trimmed off using the point of the Takebera by inverting the Tombo. 3.  Cross section to illustrate the position of the Tombo over the pot. 

An article from Pottery Marking Illustrated about this tool is in following link :


Photo and materials from :
Inside Japanese Ceramics by Richard L. Wilson 1995
The World of Japanese Ceramics by Herbert H. Sanders
The Japanese Pottery Handbook by Penny Simpson
Shoji Hamada, A Potter's Way and Work by Susan Peterson
The Art of Bernard Leach by Carol Hogben
Pottery Marketing Illustrated, Nov/Dec 2008 

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