Tosen Kutani Tenmoku Chawan

Potter: Tosen Kutani

Approximate size: W4.5″ by H3.4″ or 11.5 by 8.6 cm

This chawan was made by the first class Kutani potter Tosen Kutani. Thrown from porcelain with a half cylinder shape, it has steep walls with barely any slope.

The rim has a peculiar wave to it, alike the gogaku style seen at times on Raku chawan. It has been given a tenmoku glaze which has a very fine dusting of glimmering particles in it. Light falling on this type of glaze will effect the way it looks, changing the angle changes the particles that light up in the glaze. Additional photos can be made on request.

The word is created from ‘go’ meaning 5 and ‘gaku’ meaning mountain. In Raku the rim is formed to create the 5 peaks or 5 mountains – a gentle wave which besides being a unique touch of Raku-yaki is also pleasing when the rims touches the lips.

Kutani ware is a style of Japanese porcelain traditionally supposed to be from Kutani, currently a part of Kaga province which is a part of Ishikawa prefecture located on Honshu island. It is divided into two phases: ko-Kutani or old Kutani), from the 17th and early 18th centuries and Saikō-Kutani from the revived production in the 19th century. The more prestigious Ko-Kutani wares are recognized by scholars to be a complex and much misrepresented group, very often not from Kutani at all.

Kutani ware is a traditional handcrafts designated by the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry with a history of 360 years it is one of the famous porcelains representing Japan!

Kutani ware, especially in the ko-Kutani period, is marked by vivid dark colours that epitomize lavish aesthetics. It is theorized but unproven; that the long, harsh and grey winters of the Hokuriku region led to a desire among people living there for ceramic ware to show strong and bold uplifting colours. The classical five colours style is known as gosai-de (五彩手), which includes green, blue, yellow, purple and red. The designs are bold and normally depict landscapes, the beauty of nature, people and cover most of the surface of each piece.

In recognition of the modern understanding that much, if not most, of the ko-Kutani production was located around Arita, the wares are now sometimes grouped with Imari ware (thrown in as correct or incorrect “ko-Kutani type”), or the wider groupings of Arita ware or Hizen ware.

The chawan, sealed by the potter has no chips or cracks and is in excellent condition. Comes with the original quality shiho san paulownia tomobako, storage box with kiln stamp and calligraphy on the lid.


Thank you very much!

Ko-Kutani (old Kutani), of early stage progressed under the support of the Daishoji clan around 1655. After the discovery of potter’s clay at a mine near Kutani village, Saijiro Goto was sent to Arita in Kyushu district to master ceramics and brought back the techniques he learned during his journey. Though the ko-Kutani kilns developed a bold, colorful and loved style, they disappeared suddenly in about 1700. The exact reason or this is still unknown.

About eighty years later, the Kaga clan started a kiln titled ‘Kasugayama” at Kanazawa which breathed new life into Kutani as a distinct style of pottery. This is considered as the moment of restoration. From here on many kilns were build such as the Mokubei kiln, the Yoshida-ya and during the Meiji period, Shoza Kutani developed his own style here as well. Shoza Kutani became quite successful with his paintings of ‘saishiki-kinrande’ with red as ground and gold showing refined designs. These became famous as an export product and quite an influence on the improvement of the industry.