Satsuma Antiques

a typical satsuma ginger jarThere are many types of Satsuma Antiques to collect. The Satsuma region of Japan produced many different styles and types of pottery over the last 200 years and much of it can be considered as valuable.  The delicate finish and fine craftsmanship often draw people to Japanese art and pieces and there is nothing more suited to being collected than this style of pottery.  Satsuma is often compared to Chinese porcelain, as they were both made with similar care and perfection.  However, I believe that the Chinese items to be more dull in color, compared to the bright and vivid imagery that you can find on Satsuma pieces.

Due to the quality and skill of the makers of these pieces, many have lasted several hundred years and people have found that they have been passed down through their families.  Many Satsuma pieces can also be bought at auction or you may even be lucky enough to pick one up at a local house sale or thrift shop.

Satsuma Vases are very popular among collectors. These vases, some as tall as 9 or 10 inches, are highly decorated with pictures of Japanese Geisha girls or images of wildlife. Used mainly for the display of flowers, a Satsuma Vase is a great addition to any collection of Japanese porcelain or pottery.  Other popular items include bowls and ginger jars, which seem to be very popular too.  The short ginger jar is widely associated with Japanese antiques and culture and therefore you may find more of these types of items if you are looking to buy.

Another popular Satsuma antique are the Satsuma Geisha Buttons. These tiny, delicately decorated earthenware buttons were worn on the clothing of Japanese Geisha girls. They are often hand painted with images of plants, flowers or animals.

There are many types of Satsuma Pottery you could collect. Always look for the tell tale crackled glaze, yellowish appearance and intricate and sometimes raised decoration.  It is also important that you turn the item over and check for the makers marking on the bottom before you buy.  The style of design was copied massively, all over the world, after it became popular, with many pieces being copied and mass produced.  This lead to there being printed markings written in English such as "Hand Painted Royal Satsuma" rather than a hand painted Shimazu crest and the name of the individual maker or kiln in Japan.

Dragonware satsuma

Dragonware and Moriage Pottery

During the late 19th century, techniques used by the makers and styles of oriental pottery such as Satsuma and Dragonware began to evolve and progress as the potters became more skilled and had access to better and more advanced machinery and kilns.

The use of Moriage is widespread throughout the range of Japanese and Chinese pottery that has been available over the last 200 years. Moriage is the term used to describe the layering of small beads or lines of slip clay onto the surface of the pottery, vase or bowl which is then glazed over to leave a relief that can be felt and seen. The Moriage beads were often painted gold after the glaze had been applied, giving the pottery item a unique and special finish. The beads were all placed onto the pottery by hand before it was fired in the kiln. Later, when the mass production of such items was started, the addition of the slip clay beads was replaced by adding small dots of enamel which speeded up the production time of each of the items.

Moriage was also taken one step further and was used to create pottery vases and barrels that have heavily stylized relief designs. Pottery such as Dragonware featured this style and method heavily. The term Dragonware is used to describe a pot or vase that has an oriental dragon motif that has been built up using fine layers of slip clay, making a deep relief of the dragon or serpent that curls around the outside of the piece of pottery. Slip clay is a thick liquid clay that is used to make porcelain and pottery. The Dragonware was then painted in bright colors with scenes or images of Japanese or Oriental life, and the dragons were usually left with a minimal or white coloring. Although it began to be made in the late 19th century, Dragonware is still made today and is still very popular, being exported all over the world.

The raised, 3 dimensional parts of the moriage and Dragonware pieces were often added to the pottery using a technique known as slipwork. This involves mixing the clay with water to form a runny substance which is then poured into a shaped mold and allowed to set for a period of time before being added to the pottery just before the firing process.

Some of the Dragonware and beaded moriage pottery may not be marked, painted with or stamped with the mark of the designer or factory where it was made. It was common for pieces of Nippon pottery to have a small paper label applied which may have now been lost or destroyed.