Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Displaying Japanese Pottery

The display of Japanese Pottery is almost as important as the pottery itself. There is a myriad of ways to bring out the beauty of a particular piece. I will show various ways to "show off" your treasures. I will be adding more ideas from time to time. Hopefully these ideas will encourage you to experiment with your own pieces. Have fun!

On wood

On obi

On tatami mat 

On a spool

In a Cube

On brick or stone

With old natural wood 

On cloth pillow mats or coasters

In groupings

       A grouping of Bizen pottery.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Common Japanese Decorative Motifs

I am working on adding various common motifs and patterns on Japanese ceramics. It is a work in progress so it will be a while until I get all the information and pictures added. I decided to go ahead and publish it in its unfinished form in hopes that it is of some help to my followers. Look forward to many changes and additions in the future. 

Pine Needles
"Japanese and Oriental Ceramics" by Hazel Gorham pg 209-210 "...To the Japanese the pine is symbolic of strength because it lives to a great age; its unchanging green suggests fidelity; and prosperity is indicated y the rich green of its needles. Some species of pine have needles growing in pairs which suggests unfailing devotion. The pine is a very common motive on Japanese ceramics where it is sometimes pictured in naturalistic form but more often very much stylized. Japanese artists have conventionalized the branches of the pine tree into semi-circular form difficult for the uninitiated to recognize; and two pine needles still joined together as they fall from the tree is a common ceramic motive."

Mountain and water/ Sansui (山水)

Shonzui (祥瑞)

The bottom is is Shonzui. Combined pattern would be described as Hana Shonzui.

Celadon/blue and white seiji-sometsuke 青磁染付

Brown rim or Fuchisabi (rim rust)

Thousand Faces

Crackle Glaze with dark lines/ Hibi Yaki

Hibiyaki is found in Soma ware (above) but is also common in Nabeshima ware and others.


Ikkanjin (一閑人) 

Mountain Range/Toyama (遠山)

Chatter Marks/Tobigana (飛鉋)

Brush Stroke/Hakeme (刷毛目)

Blue Sea Waves/Sei-Gai-Ha (青海波)

This pattern is common in Japanese fabrics (above) but is typically used in blue and white (sometsuke)

Karakusa, Hana Karakusa and Tako-Karakusa (蛸唐草)


Yomodasuki is dots arranged on a grid pattern
(Thanks to my friend Alice for teaching me this term) 

White dots used on Imari 


Thousand Strokes/Sen-gaki (千書)

Cloud/Kumo (雲)

Pine Bamboo and Plum/Sho-Chiku-Bai (松竹梅)

The pieces shown above are various renditions of the "sho chiku bai" design. Top left is a strenciled design with the center being the focus. The bottom left also uses the center as its focus. It also uses the crane motif. The top right transfer ware has the plum in the center and in three section around the outer design. The bamboo and the pine needle motif fill the remaining outer portions.

The Four Noble Friends or Four Gentlemen/ Shi Kunshi
This pattern is made up of the combination of  bamboo, plum blossom, chrysanthyemum and orchid

Round Pattern/Maru-Mon (丸紋)

The left is Japanese the right is Chinese. Both use this motif.

Comb Pattern  (Nabeshima ware)

Horse Eyes/Uma-no-Me (馬の目)

Mishima (三島)

Mesh Pattern/Ami-Me-Mon  or Amide (網手)

Crab (かに 蟹)


Phoenix or Hoo Bird

The left is Chinese the right is Japanese. Both use this motif.

Crane/Tsuru (鶴)

Crane and Turtle/Tsuru-Kame (鶴 と 亀)

The one on the left is a crane in the air and a turtle climbing out of the water. The one on the right is the crane in the air and the design on the bottom is a stylized form of the shell of a turtle which is quite common in Japanese design.


Cherry Blossom/Sakura (桜)


Lotus Flower/Hasu



Persimmon/Kaki (柿)

Maple Leaf/Fuuyou 楓葉


Carp/Koi (鯉)

Fish/Sakana (魚)

Chinese Children at Play/Karako     (Nabeshima produced wares with his motif)

When the New Year approaches, stores in Japan fill up with themed items according to the Asian Zodiac. There are always many ceramic renditions to choose from. Although often used to celebrate the designated new year,  animal images can be seen on ceramics just as decoration anytime. Tigers, dragons and rabbits are always favorites. 



Tiger/Tora (虎)

Rabbit/ Usagi (兎)

Dragon/Ryu (龍)




The horse motif is used extensively on Soma Pottery. 


Cock/Niwa Tori




Japanese and Oriental Ceramics by Hazel H. Gorham
Various Japanese books on ceramics

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