Kutani ware is one of the greatest of Japanese porcelains.
The style is said to be started in 1655 in Kutani (九谷）region, which is in the current Kaga city in Ishikawa prefecture. After 50 years its existence, it disappeared once from the front stage of porcelains’ world. The reasons remain mystery even today. In 1807, only 80 years later, Kokutani was re-established when the domain of Kaga that governed the region that time, brought Mokubei Aoki, a porcelain artist, from Kyoto and opened a kiln.
However, the history of Kokutani had never been easy. During the period of 1940-1960s, the origin of Kokutani ware was challenged. Some started doubting that the origin was not from Kutani region, but from Arita region, where is still one of the most important home of porcelains. Fragments of a china plate with the similar style as Kutani were found in Arita region, while the fragments found in Kutani region were different from Kokutani in it style. After 1987, the development of scientific research methods could identify a type of clay, form and tone. The research results concluded that Kokutani ware could be made in the current Okayama region in 1640-1650, but similar style of fragments were recently found in Kutani area and the origin still remains as a mystery.
Its most outstanding characteristic is the multicolored ceramics painting. There are two different kinds of painting. One is called ‘Gosaite (五彩手)’, which is named from its characteristics of using five colors of red, yellow, green, purple and navy. Gaussian often draw beauty of nature, landscape, or people’s life. Its bold and well composed pictures create an exquisite harmony on white porcelain.
Another style is called ‘Aote(青手)’. It uses deep colours of green, yellow and purple but no use of red. Aote style paints an entire surface of a porcelain by the similar touch and rich colour of oil painting. The thickness of the paint gives a dynamic three-dimensional effect. It is as though birds and flowers drawn were about fly out of the porcelain.