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Satsuma Buttons

One of the more intricate and beautiful types of Japanese Pottery you will find are the sets of Satsuma Buttons.  These porcelain or earthenware pottery buttons are amazingly tiny sewing buttons adorned with beautiful images in the style that the Satsuma region on the southern island of Japan is famous for.

Measuring roughly only 1 inch in diameter, the satsuma button is designed to be sewn on to clothing and features an intricate image or design on the surface.  The design of the buttons often features images of plants or flowers that are native to Japan.  Some buttons also feature images of faces or landscapes and buildings.  The buttons have a hole post on the rear that allows them to be attached to clothing.

The button are all decorated and painted by hand by the skilled craftsmen that made the other Japanese Satsuma pottery such as vases and bowls and the same skill and care went into theses items as went into the larger pieces.  Using an array of colors and the heavy use of gold enamel, these tiny buttons really spring to life.  The artists also employed the use of raised enamel too which makes the buttons ever more pretty and detailed.

The buttons follow the usual method of manufacture that has made the Satsuma pottery very collectible all over the world.  The pottery is of an off white or creamy color and is heavily decorated and covered with a thin translucent glaze which is then deliberately cracked through over heating to give the hall mark look and design to the pottery.  The cracks are known as Kannyu. These hallmarks are the same on a Satsuma Vase.

Often available in sets of 6, these antique kimono buttons may have been made for the Japanese Geisha girls or ladies of higher standing.  Sold as a complete set, it would be possible that the buttons were designed to fit a standard piece of clothing such as a Kimono or coat.  The sets of buttons were also sold attached to a piece of card with thread - so finding an antique set of these with the original card still attached would be highly sought after.

As some of these antique satsuma buttons are quite rare, it is important that you check they are from the region of Satsuma or Osumi.  It is common for buttons to be made by copiers of the style and design as they were so popular when they were made hundreds of years ago.  The original satsuma mark is often a circle with a cross inside followed by the name of the maker underneath, although not always.  Satsuma is the name given to Japanese pottery that was created in that area of Japan, so there may be items that are not what they seem.