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How to work out the markings yourself.

In over 12, years of the Japanese traditionfew items have been considered more precious than finely crafted Japanese pottery. While much of that history is undoubtedly concerned with the production of everyday wares for storage use or for cookingthe elite classes in Japan cultivated a long tradition of producing more ritualistic pieces with extraordinarily high value. Among sought-after Japanese pottery in the market today: the Satsuma vase and other types of Satsuma pottery.

While in ancient times, the most venerated work appears to us today to be the Haniwawhich were statue-like figures cast in water-based clay, more recent periods have focused on pieces for use in the tea ceremony, or chanoyuwhich has been enshrined as a cornerstone of high society since the 11th century.

A particularly innovative or amusing artist could be considered a great asset to an aristocrat, as the constitution of the tea set was itself a reflection on the aesthetic philosophy of wabi-sabiguiding principles for the ceremony deed to emphasize the austere, imperfect, and rough nature of existence. It is in the context of this tradition that Satsuma warean oddly paradoxical category that can simultaneously refer to some of the most desirable — as well as some of the most reviled — Japanese ceramics ever made, emerged.

Tracing these origins and subsequent evolution is essential to understanding how this near-legendary type of earthenware obtained this dual status, and how to identify different types of Satsuma pieces in the market today.

The original artisans that produced Satsuma pottery were not, in fact, from the Satsuma Province. In that time, the culture around the Tea Ceremony was already so ificant, and the renown of the Korean potters so ubiquitous back in Japan, that the first action undertaken by the invading Satsuma army was to seize all the local potters in the region and forcibly relocate them back to Japan.

That may seem to be a misplaced priority, but doing so was simple economics: before the war, a single, genuine Korean piece could fetch hundreds, if not thousands, of gold pieces in the Japanese market. The local lords restricted the sale of the best Satsuma pottery, limiting the sale of white pieces to the aristocracy. Commoners, no matter how wealthy, were forced to buy only black wares.

Check for the shimazu crest.

The renown of the Satsuma pottery kilns spread far and wide throughout the country. While the Japanese Satsuma vase is one of the most popular objects in the field, any work from this period tends to be quite valuable today. While some workshops, like the Taizan or the Kinkozan, continued to produce works into the late 19 th century, such works are exceedingly rare and very precious, generally found in museums or in Japanese personal collections.

Late Edo period Satsuma bowl with relief dragon and polychrome chrysanthemum de. Typically, later period works from these workshops have workshop atures or marks, but pieces made before the Meiji Restoration are usually left uned.

Check for english words first.

These pieces reflect the austerity of wabi-sabibeing thick-rimmed, minimally decorated, robust pieces, with a focus placed on form, in which the artist ideally disappears into the aesthetic. Some later pieces from the Edo period did incorporate illustrative elements, which would be adopted by the following period of production on a scale ly inconceivable.

Detail of uned late Edo period Satsuma bowl. InUnited States President Millard Fillmore, seeking economic advantage for American business interests, ordered Naval Commodore Matthew Perry to set sail with a company of state-of-the-art warships from their home port in Norfolk, Virginia. Word of Satsuma masterworks spread to the West, and Japanese ceramics and porcelain became sought-after luxuries throughout America and Europe. The savvy rulers of Satsuma by this Dating satsuma porcelain the Shimazu clanwere quick to capitalize on the gigantic expansion of the market for Japanese porcelain. The quality of pieces from this time ranges dramatically, but most Satsuma pottery that was made for export is generally considered of lesser quality, or even slightly offensive, today.

Hawkers would even concoct fantastic stories of provenance for the gullible 19th century Western audience, claiming that certain items been presented to the pope on a Japanese mission to Rome, centuries ago.

The key to authenticating satsuma

Since Japanese woodblock prints and books were seeing similar success in the West, Japanese pottery began reflecting the pictorial nature of those mediums, focusing most on genre illustrations or portraits on the surface, with less interest in the ceramic form itself. This industry became so large and influential that the samurai of the Satsuma Domain were able to leverage their reputation and economic position abroad to secure backing by the British Empire during their successful revolt against the Shogunate inwhich ended the centuries of Tokugawa rule. Wares from this period through the mid th century differ from their predecessors in a multitude of ways, and since the term eventually came to encompass nearly all the output of Japanese kilns, the variety of work from this period can be staggering.

Fortunately, there is one unifying element present in this period: stamps and atures, a consequence of ramped up competition, coupled with uncertain provenance. If the piece is not factory-produced, reading the mark Dating satsuma porcelain typically provide the name of a family workshop written in Japanese.

How to read satsuma marks

Regardless of the foreign market, demand was still present for more traditional pieces within Japan itself, and artisans that catered to this more discerning audience tend today to be more valued than those catering to foreign tourists. Looking for more? Get the latest stories, price guides and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox. Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes. The Evolution of Japanese Pottery While in ancient times, the most venerated work appears to us today to be the Haniwawhich were statue-like figures cast in water-based clay, more recent periods have focused on pieces for use in the tea ceremony, or chanoyuwhich has been enshrined as a cornerstone of high society since the 11th century.

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