feature ④ from “fuku” to “the Dainippon Kutani”

The back names written on kutani in the Edo period often had the character “fuku” (福 fortune)  in single or double squares, and they have the meaning of auspiciousness. Therefore, even in the revival kutani, which it is known that the master craftsmen were active, their names could not be written on the revival kutani.

However, from the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period, a porcelain painter who wrote his back name appeared. He was Kutani Shoza. At the end of the Edo period Shoza begun to write only his back name “Shoshichi” (a childhood name of Shoza) or a set of “fuku” and “Shoshichi”, and changed to a set of “fuku” and “Shoza”, and then a set of “kutani” in square and “Shoza” (smaller character)” (meaning Shoza made Kutani).

When Shoza, who completed the technique of colored brocade painting style in the first Meiji period, and gained a high fame, the back name “Kutani Shoza” (one-line writing) was temporarily written on his works, but many works with such back name did not exist. Since that time, almost Shoza’s works were made at Shoza factory under the supervision of Shoza, and “Kutani / Shoza” (/ means two-line writing) were used as the back name. Other master craftsmen saw the back name of Shoza, and then followed the format of “Kutani / (name of potter)”.

On the other hand, in many export kutani, “Dainippon Kutani” (大日本九谷) was written. For example, the back name of the vase by Haruna Shigeharu, which was exhibited at the Philadelphia World’s Fair in 1876, was written as “Made by Haruna Shigeharu in Dainippon Kutani” From that time, “Dainippon Kutani / (manufacturer’s or painter’s name)” was written on the export kutani to indicate the place of origin. Marunaka Magohei, pottery merchant tried to establish a brand of “Dainippon Kutani”, which was an image of “Japan kutani”.

After that, inside Japan, the country name was omitted and only “kutani” was established as the brand name, and in rare cases, “Kutani / (the name of the painter)” was written on the work by the master craftsman. It seems that “Kaga country” and “in Kutani” had the same meaning.

However, the name of the pottery merchant as a “brand name” was written on the products handled by the large-scale pottery merchant as if to guarantee the quality. Products with the name of “Kaburagi” (鏑木), “Watano” (綿野or綿埜), “Oda” (織田), “Taniguchi” (谷口), etc. gained high fame both in Japan and overseas due to their “brand power”.