Satsuma Figure

By | May 3, 2009

Apart from the array of pottery that the Satsuma region on the southern island of Japan is famous for such as vases, bowls, buttons and plates - there were also other types of pottery made using the same style and practice used by the same makers.  One of these types of pottery is the figure or figurine.

Some may dispute that there are no Satsuma figures made as they seem to fairly seldom found or collected but there are some that can be traced back to the same makers of satsuma bowls and vases.

The satsuma figure will always be of a person or Satsuma Immortal from Japan, often holding an item such as flowers or a fan and posing rather than performing a task such as working.  The characters and figures also feature heavy decoration to their clothing and any part of the landscape that may feature in the design.  The artwork on the piece follows the usual Satsuma style with heavy use of gold, intricate, detailed images and patterns covered with a cracked glaze.  The pottery is also of a creamy or light brown or beige appearance.  A Satsuma figure was never made from porcelain which was used in Japan to make the also well known white and blue items that you can find at auction, but the Satsuma pieces were all made from earthenware pottery.

It often seems that many of the figures that were made in the satsuma style are slight caricatures of the people they are imitating.  Possibly not the kind of caricature that we many know from modern cartooning, but certainly designs that distort the size and forms.

The figurines are certainly collectible items and are often found at auction houses all over the world.  As per other Satsuma pieces, ensure that the item is not one of the mass produced types that also came from the Satsuma region around the time that many of the other finer pieces were being made.  The Satsuma style and name was also copied all over the world and many imitations made that claimed to be from the Japanese area made famous by these beautiful pieces.

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