Satsuma Pottery By Makuzu Kozan


One of the most popular and famous of the potters who made Satsuma style pottery was Makuzu Kozan. Born in 1842, Kozan was one of the Kyoto pottery experts who made the Satsuma style famous around the world and his works are still considered to be of the finest quality.

Although he was not one of the original potters from the initial Satsuma kilns, his artistic stylings and craftsmanship have made his pieces very collectible.

Learning from his father, who owned a very successful workshop in Kansai, Japan, Kozan had not been expected to take over after his death.

However, his skills in painting that were learnt from the age of 9 onwards took him in that direction. The story goes, that the young Kozan was asked to create a pot for washing brushes by his painting master, Giryo.

When Kozan carved an intricate dragon pattern that would only show when the dark inky water seeped into the carved areas, his father was so impressed that he took the pot and fired and glazed it himself, then taking Kozan into producing more pieces.

His expert skills and techniques soon lead to orders for his work from the Imperial Court and other notable local people.

These consisted of small items of tea sets and equipment, right up to sets of 50 bowls, all decorated with red and gold and arranged on a shelf for display. His work during the Meiji period in Japan became his most popular.

An example of the Kozan marking.
An example of the Kozan marking. An example of the Kozan marking.

It has been said that, although Kozan was from a more modern time, he strived to created pieces that were in the stylings of older Satsumaware.

This may also lead us to the reason why some of his works are not marked at all, possibly trying to make them look more antique and more like "old Satsuma".

These pieces are often referred to as "Ota Ware" or "Makuzuyaki" and lead some collectors in the west of noting him as a maker of forgeries.

After this mark on his character (around 1870), the majority of his pieces after that period do have his name on in an attempt to ensure that his works were recognised for their superior quality.