What Is Satsuma Pottery?

Satsuma pottery was made in, or around Kagoshima in Kyushu, Japan in the later part of the 19th century, through to the early 1920's in Satsuma in southern Japan.

A typical piece of Satsuma will be of a yellow complexion and usually decorated with intricate and minute Japanese figures, landscapes and even dragons.

The designs also feature a form of decoration called Moriage which is a term used to describe the use of raised enamel seen on many pieces of Asian and Japanese pottery.

Why Is It So Collectible?

Original pieces, made, painted and marked only by hand with Japanese Kanji marks were eventually copied and mass produced and made all over the world, turning the original skills of the ancient craftsmen into mere household objects and pieces that became available at any local antique shop.

Many satsuma pieces that are from the original location and from makers such as the Kinkozan family are rare and if intact and in good condition, can fetch a high price from collectors. There are many different pieces of Satsuma Pottery, but the most commonly collected are as follows:

Satsuma Vase

Satsuma Vase

The Satsuma vases are probably the most collected pieces due to their fine decoration and intricate detail. Often coming as a pair (not identical), vases can measure up to several feet in height and were originally used for plain decoration, to hold flowers or were part of a display.

The display vases are usually numbered underneath so you can tell the position it should be in.

Satsuma Buttons

Satsuma Buttons

These small pottery buttons were worn by Geisha girls and wealthy or powerful people.

Coming in packs of 6 or more, these buttons have the tiniest and beautiful images painted on them and are real collector's items.

Satsuma Tea Set

Satsuma Tea Set

The Japanese tea ceremony is very important and therefore the Satsuma potters of the 18th century made entire tea sets in the same style as their vases and bowls.

Also decorated with bright colors and images of Japanese life, the tea sets are highly valuable if they are all in one piece and in the original box.

Satsuma Figures and Statues

Satsuma Figure

During the time that these original pieces were made, it was also popular for the potters to make small statues of Japanese people.

These were often caricatures of important people or of the Immortals, who feature heavily in the decoration of the Satsuma pottery pieces.

Satsuma Bowls, Plates And Dishes

Satsuma Bowl

Bowls are also a popular piece for people to collect. They are not large, around 12 inches in diameter, but are finely painted and decorated with enamel paints.

These also feature images of wildlife, plants, places and people.

For more background information about the methods used to make these pieces, you can also read about the use of Gosu Blue coloring, Moriage, the method used to make raised enamel decorations and which books about Satsuma Pottery you can buy to help you identify each piece and the markings they have.

Is my Satsuma genuine?

Many people are passed down pieces of porcelain through their family or manage to pick some up at a local thrift store or auction.  However, you may not know if those pieces are real antiques, or if they are one of the mass-produced products that were created when the Satsuma style became popular across the world.

If you are planning to take the items to a local valuation service, you might want to read this article about fake Satsuma first, just to make sure you are not wasting your time and money.

You can also post a picture of your items over at our Facebook page, but please bear in mind that we are not experts in Satsuma pieces and cannot give a valuation service, especially from some blurred photos sent over the Internet.

However, we might be able to point you in the right direction and give some basic advice.