Kutani Ware is unique and historical that originates from Japan. Kutani ware is an art that has passed down to generations from the Edo era. The artistic Kutani porcelain established back in the 1655 where it was supervised by the Maeda Toshiharu. This was the first-ever local government of the Daishoji clan.
Porcelain production began when the porcelain stone was discovered. This happened by luck when the mining process in the Kutani village was underway. This mining process was being done using newly introduced techniques by the Saga clan – the Arita technique. Saga clan is well-known for their Imari ware.
However, the Kutani word came from the locally established kiln in the area. This new artistic era was called Ko-Kutani initially. Ko-Kutani means Old Kutani but with the addition of the Aote decorating style, everything changed. The Aote style of decoration uses a careful collaboration of dark colors like dark blue, green, yellow and purple.
On the other hand, the Iroe technique of decorating style uses colors like purple, red, yellow, green and dark blue. While both of these styles are similar, they are still unique in their own ways. The use of such bold colors and patterns captured the attention of all porcelain workers and intellectuals. This is why these artistic techniques were passed down to generations.
The Rise & Fall of Kutani
Unfortunately, Ko-Kutani was discontinued because of several reasons with finances being one of them. However, an artist with the name of Aoki Mokubei from Koyoto revived the Kutani art and created Kutani ware in the 1800s. Since then, it is called Kutani instead of Ko-Kutani and continues to be known as such. Each piece was still a masterpiece that hailed praise from across the world.
The reviving of Kutani by Mokubei was even better in the 1860s since the artist added touches of gold in the art. No matter which pattern he used, he started using golden color to make it more luxurious. Patterns of nature, animals and humans painted with bold colors and golden lines made it appear unique. Moreover, these patterns and colors were used in everything from bowls, plates, vases, jars and mugs.
Additionally, the glazing of these Kutani ware gave it a final shiny look. This made it stand out even more and each glazed piece lasted longer than the Ko-Kutani ware. If you own such apiece, make sure that you follow instructions of how to use them. The dye used to paint these pieces will last longer only if you use them properly. Oil them before using and use a mild detergent when cleaning them.
Popularity of Kutani Ware
Once the popularity of Kutani ware became known in the world, the demand for it rose. People were willing to spend thousands of dollars to collect the original Kutani designs in dinnerware and vases. Even though they are used rarely, it did made it to the collection. Vases specifically are considered an antique that comes with a high price tag.
The unique thing about Kutani ware is the intricate details in designs and the use of bold colors. These designs and colors do not fade with time. However, finding these antiques is not easy. With so many knock-offs available at cheaper rates across the world, Kutani ware has become accessible to everyone.
This leads us to another question about looking at details that can differentiate the original Kutani from cheap knock-offs.
Distinguishing Factors of Antique Kutani Ware Vase
There are three ways to distinguish an antique Kutani ware, especially when it comes to a vase. If you are planning to buy one, or already have one that has left you confused about its originality, here is how you can find out.
1. Mark at the Bottom of the Vase
An antique Kutani vase will have the name of the designer and the company name at the bottom. As opposed to vases that only bear the company name may not be worth a lot. The name of designer can tell you if your vase is an antique. These markings can either be embossed or painted. As long as they are present, your Kutani ware vase is antique.
2. Over Marks at the Bottom of the Vase
When an artist makes a vase, he or she marks his name or signature at the bottom. Usually, when a company re-polishes an antique vase, they place another mark on top of the original. The over mark causes the original one to fade a little but not entirely. If you notice an over mark at the bottom of the vase, it indicates that yours is an antique.
3. Looking for the NIPPON Mark
If you are based in the United States, here is an interesting fact about Japanese import of Kutani vases. Before 1921, it was compulsory for every item coming from Japan to have a NIPPON mark on them. However, after 1921, Japanese started to stamp JAPAN on their vases and other Kutani ware items. Therefore, the NIPPON mark may still be there but at the bottom. This mark will also have the date of import and the name of the designer. The older the date, the higher chances of your Kutani vase to be an antique.
Places to Buy the Kutani Ware Vase
Although it has a rich history, the Kutani kiln is still there with production in full swing. There is no end to art collectors and therefore, famous kilns in Japan still produce these art pieces. If you wish to get your hands on some of these unique vases, you can buy them from the Japanes Kutani Store.
1. Kutani Ware Vase Unkaitsuru Flying Crane on the Sea of Clouds
This gem of a piece is finished by applying a transparent or five-color glaze on top of a silver leaf. In addition to the fact that the silver foil does not peel off, it also has the advantage of not rusting. The design depicts a crane flying over a majestic sea of clouds, making it an ideal gift for elderly people celebrating longevity.
2. Kutani Vase Syunjyu
This Kutani ware vase represents the four seasons of Japan by using flower petals and autumn leaves flowing down a river. The four seasons, which are at the root of the Japanese sense of beauty, make the flowers look even more beautiful when displayed.
3. Kutani Vase Silver Light Mountain 7.5Size
This is a dynamic Kutani ware vase with two cranes flying over a mountain range painted in silver and gold. Cranes are considered auspicious animals in Japan and are said to symbolize longevity. For this reason, it is an ideal gift for the elderly.
4.Kutani Vase Ginsai - Silver Light -
This is a fantastic Kutani ware vase with a beautiful bluish silver shine.
It is characterized by geometric patterns that look like thin silver foil has been applied.
Ginsai is a technique in which silver leaf is applied and then transparent or five-color glaze is applied and fired. It is characterized by the fact that the silver leaf does not peel off and does not rust. The tone of the painting is soft, and elegant expression is possible.