porcelain has been traced to 17th century Japan,
taking its name from the southern province of Kyushu Island.
Interestingly enough, this type of pottery was
actually developed by Korean potters.
You will hear Satsuma referred to alternatively as
"pottery" and "porcelain" but it is
actually somewhere in between.
This type of porcelain is produced at lower
temperatures than porcelain but higher temperatures than you
would typically use to make pottery.
Following Japan's invasion of
Korea in the 17th century, the Prince of Satsuma
brought potters from Korea, where they established a now
famous kiln for making pottery.
The ongoing patronage of the prince's family, the
Shimazu family was the daimyos (feudal lords) at the time
that resulted in the great popularity of Satsuma porcelain.
Production of Satsuma pottery
is no longer limited to one area of Japan.
In fact, you will find three major yakis or kilns,
which includes a famous one in Kyoto.
Satsuma was and still is made from brown clay, and
the pottery today retains the cream colored body and
crackled gaze. Many
pieces include a trademark deep blue color, calls "Goso
share that you can tell where a particular piece of Satsuma
pottery was made by certain characteristics.
For example, the Satsuma that
is made in Kyoto will be lighter in body color, which was
close to the color of cream whereas the Satsuma made in
Kyushu is darker in tone.
All Satsuma pottery has what is called 'crackle',
which are fines lines crisscrossing the pottery in a random
matrix pattern, the result of the glazing and kiln firing
pottery made in Kyushu has more pronounced crackle that is
The Shimzu family introduced
the world to their beautiful earthenware pieces at the Paris
International Exposition of 1867.
Attracted by their fine craftsmanship and gorgeous
designs, Satsuma porcelain was an instant hit and their
debut at the Paris International Exposition created a demand
for the pottery in Europe.
It was not long before a strong export market
Old Satsuma pottery retains
great value and antiques are highly prized.
If you are shopping for antique Satsuma porcelain, be
sure to consult and expert to make sure you are truly
getting what you paid for!
The first Korean potters made simple but
elegant clay pottery that was used in the highly structured
Japanese tea ceremony.
The pieces tended to be small, which is why they were
used as incense burners and boxes, jars for water, and vases
for use in the Ikebana, the Japanese art of floral
The first vessels were characterized by a cream-colored body, covered
by a glaze, usually yellow in color.
The potters of Satsuma began using decorative
approaches to their art in response to competition from
Imari porcelain. Imari
porcelain was also made on the island of Kyushu, in the
Arita area. Near
the end of the 18th century, tot wanting to lose
consumers to the Imari potters, a famous Japanese potter
named Ninsei learning the Imari techniques.
He in turn taught the Satsuma artists how to decorate
their plain pottery using different colors of enamel as well
Satsuma porcelain of today displays strong, thickly applied colors.
Popular patterns originally included floral designs,
geometric patterns as the ever popular phoenix and dragon
the advent of the 19th century, landscapes and
life-like figures became more common.
The characteristics of the body are sometimes helpful in determining
where a piece of Satsuma was made. The products of Kyoto
often show a lighter creamy-white body whereas the Satsuma
from Kyushu bears a somewhat darker tone and stronger
crackle lines in the glaze.