Antiques - Kutani Porcelain Will Earn Your Respect
Cape May County Herald (press release) reported
If Kutani porcelain is not well known or well respected in this country, it is treasured in Japan, and has been for over 350 years.
Kutani (a word meaning “nine valleys”) is a remote part of the Ishikawa Prefecture on the Western coast of Japan, directly across from Tokyo. The chief city of the region is Kanazawa, a tourist destination known for it’s castles.
In 1655, more than a half century before anyone in Europe knew how to make porcelain, the wealthy, aristocratic Maeda family that ruled in Ishikawa, started making porcelain, often in the Chinese style (even sometimes using Chinese marks, not to deceive, but as a form of flattery).
Over the centuries, factories in the Kutani region produced a variety of wares, including decorative objects like vases, plaques, jardinieres and figurines, and some elegant serving plates, chargers, punch bowls, fruit bowls and tea sets.
There is also an equally wide variety of colors, designs and techniques in Kutani wares. Some pieces, especially from the late 18th and early 19th Century, employ the traditional five-color technique – red, blue, yellow, purple, and green – called gosai.
Most of the Kutani we see in antique shops these days, however, is from the Meiji period (1868-1912). Pieces from this period tend to have red designs decorated with gold. Scenes include birds, butterflies, florals and people, usually Immortals, disciples of Buddha, or geishas. Borders, rims and bases are often decorated in repeated designs called diapering.
Marks underneath Kutani ware are either Japanese characters in red or in gold over a red background.
Don’t confuse Kutani with the Geisha Ware that was based on it and mass-produced in the early 20th Century. Geisha Ware, collectible in its own right, is inferior porcelain that is more crudely decorated, often with hand-colored transfers.