Satsuma Vase

One of the most collectible pieces of Satsuma Pottery is the Japanese Satsuma Vase.  These pieces of earthenware pottery, decorated with amazing images or scenes from Japanese culture or society are highly collectible and sought after items.

Due to the fact that there was a period of mass production of this type of pottery and that it was copied heavily by other pottery makers during that time, there are many styles of Satsuma pottery on the market that may bear the images and hallmarks of the Satsuma style, buy may be from other locations and time periods.  Read how to check if your vase is a genuine Satsuma piece.

A Satsuma vase can be the term used to describe an oriental style piece of pottery that  has the following characteristics.  The images that are on the surface of the pottery are very small and intricate and will usually feature either people, places, animals, Japanese Immortals or scenes from Japan.  After the image was hand painted, the vase was then covered in a thin protective glaze which cracked slightly giving another of the satsuma pottery hallmarks to look out for.  Some of the vases also heavily use gold coloring in their design which makes the vase look extra special. Another of the valuable and more sought after vases are the ones decorated with the images of many people, also known as the 1000 faces design.

Often sold as a pair, some of the Satsuma Vases measure up to nearly a meter tall, but the more common style vase you will find will be around 9 to 10 inches tall.  The vases were often used for Ikebana, the art of formal Japanese flower arranging. The majority of Satsuma vases will have a lid too which is unusual for an item which we may think would be designed to hold flowers or other plants, but these vases were for purely decorative means.  Some of the other pottery from the same region such as a Satsuma Bowl also featured a lid which some may think is unusual. The designs on the surface of the vases were mainly created so that the pieces could be used to decorate Japanese residences rather than be practical items.

If you are looking to purchase an antique satsuma vase then ensure that the item is in good condition and has no cracks or chips - or has a little damage as possible.  Due to the age of some of these pieces, it is not always possible to buy items that have no damage at all.  Finding a vase that is very old and also in very good condition is not an easy task. Also, ensure that the item has no markings or identifying words written in English such as ROYAL SATSUMA, as this will denote that the vase is not a genuine antique.


Satsuma Figure

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.