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Kutani, KUT11 China REplacement, dinnerware, tableware

Kutani, Replacement China in the KUT11 and Wheat 5786 discontinued china pattern, made in Japan.

Kutani - The word Kutani means Nine Valleys and is the name of an area and a village. The two characters that make up the word Kutani consist of the character for "nine", ku and "valley". Since Kutani is a place, almost all pieces marked Kutani were decorated there even if by any of the many manufacturers or trading shops, rather than just a single factory. Porcelain decorators familiar with the Kutani style could also move around so as an example we can sometimes find pieces marked Yokohama & Kobe with decoration in typical Kutani style. Many Kutani made pieces might also have just the artist's as a mark, and no location at all, leading us to also needing to look at style as a clue to the origin of a piece. See more information at bottom of page.

Ancient history - The first time we hear of porcelain from the Kutani (nine valleys) Village, was in 1655, in the in the first year of the Myoreki epoch. Japanese ceramic history has it that stones suitable for porcelain making was found in the Kutani mine of the Daishoji Clan, whereupon Lord Maeda Toshiharu sent Goto Saijiro to the Arita Village in the Hizen province to learn how to make porcelain. Kutani Porcelains from this early period are specifically called Ko-Kutani and are extremely rare. The production of this ware continued for about 50-60 years.
Restoration in 1800 - Around 1800 the Kutani kilns was restored in Kasugayama, Kanazawa City to make utilarian porcelains. After just a few years this kiln was destroyed by fire. Around 1806-1820 Honda Sadakichi built new kilns in Wakasugi with the purpose of reviving the old style. In 1823-1831 Yoshidaya Kilns were built in Daishoji at the site of Ko-Kutani to concentrate on commercial porcelain with printed designs. The production continues until today. In the mid-1800s the Kutani name was again revived by a number of skilled craftsmen working in different styles of which Kutani Shoza (1816-1883), working with gaudy enamels and with gold brocade, might be the best known.

Production for Export - During and after the Meiji period (1868-1912) up until today almost all Kutani porcelain in Shoza style was exported. Most of the Kutani porcelain we see today is thus 'Shoza style','Yoshida Kiln' export wares, dating from early 19th century up until today.
Birds on Kutani porcelain - Birds as a major motif in a Kutani style appear quite frequently marked Yokohama. Tashiro (Tashiro Shoten - Yokohama 1930s) produced/commissioned many of them. Bird motifs on porcelain with light inkwash technique is highly suggestive of Yokohama style with strong Kutani influence, during the export period. Apparently Kamimoto produced similar pieces to Tashiro - and they were quite popular. There is not a well defined time after the Edo period (1603-1867) where pieces were marked or not marked Kutani and only names appear. They appear randomly except for modern pieces made in Kutani which are almost always marked Kutani.
Marks on Kutani porelain - A while back John Wocher commented on Kutani marks; First of all, ceramic artists like physicians, have incredibly poor penmanship, and a great number of markings remain illegible. There are seven styles of writing, and all seven can be written illegibly if one tries hard enough. They are: Sosho style, Giosho style, Kaisho style, Reisho style, Hiragana (phonetic), Katagana (phonetic for foreign words), and Romaji (Romanized alphabet, such as "Made in Japan"). Many of the characters used in Meiji and before are no longer in use. You can't even assume that the Japanese themselves can read the markings. My guess is that 80%+ cannot. When Chinese style seals are used, all bets are off, and these remain among the most difficult to comprehend. Japanese writing can be left to right, right to left, horizontal, or vertical, but not diagonal.
Markings can be in almost any color, with red dominating Kutani, but black on green, and gold on red are common also. The mark can be incised, impressed, underglaze, over glaze, or in magic marker. They can be centered, off center, in a circle, in a square, in a double square, in a rectangle, stand alone, and can appear on the reverse or the front of a piece, or in both places simultaneously. The mark might be a place, a name of a person, artist, potter, a shop, a kiln, some marks are pictures and not words, or none of the above. The number of ways that 'Kutani' can be written, legibly and illegibly, will cause your calculator to go into scientific notation.
On the interpretations, there are at least two readings for each Kanji (Chinese character), one being the Chinese reading, and the other being the Japanese reading and interpretation. Many artist names ends with Zan (or in Japanese, Yama, both meaning mountain). Presumably when they get famous, they seem to take this kind of pen name. There are many Zans. Bizan, Shizan, Seizan, Kyozan, Kinzan, and Kyokuzan, just to name a few, come to mind. Sometimes also their fame was not long lasting. Many also have the same names, which further adds to the confusion.
Even the most common of dinner plates, cups, and saucers today are marked. Yet some Japanese National Treasures are unmarked. Increasingly also, the Chinese who are good at faking are now forging Japanese ceramics right down to the illegible or not, marking.
The best book might be the Bowes' book - Japanese Marks and Seals.

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Robbins Nest is an independent licensed retailer. We sell discontinued patterns of china, crystal and flatware via the Internet and telephone orders. We are not affiliated with any of the china companies listed nor responsible for any flaws, defects or use failure in any of the products we sell.

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