features of Meiji kutani ⑤ sign of painter and brand name “Kutani”

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In ko-kutani, which was born at Kutani village in the early Edo period, almost had signs with the character “fuku” (福 fortune) written in single or double square. In the revival kutani, which appeared one after another in the late Edo period, due to the fact that the kilns that consistently produced everything from the body baking to the painting were built one after another, the signs of the products also had the “福” in the square, but almost changed to the sign derived from the location of the kiln, or slightly from the name itself or the store name of the kiln’s owner or manager itself. Eventually, from the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period, some porcelain painters whose livelihood were a painting business appeared and became independent from the kilns. They used their own name or store name as the sign.

It is said that it was Kutani Shoza (九谷 庄三) who first wrote the sign of the painter, and the sign of Shoza changed as the times changed. In the late Edo period, the first sign used by Shoza was only “Shoshichi (庄七)” (a childhood name of Shoza) or a combination of “fuku (福)” and “Shoshichi”, as seen in the products of the Ono kiln. When his name changed from “Shoshichi” to “Shoza”, his sign changed to a combination of “fuku” in square and “Shoza” in smaller charactor. When the name “kutani ware” became popular, his sign of the products  changed to a combinatios of “kutani” in square and “Shoza”. At this time, the meaning that the painter made kutani instead of the kiln was put in the sign. Furthermore, when Shoza was allowed to get his surname in the Meiji period, he used the sign of “Kutani Shoza” (one line) at one time, but when the main body of production moved to Shosa factory and his own products decreased, the sign of both the self-painted products and the products of the factory integrated o the sign of “kutani / Shoza” in two lines, which were  written by many painters or craftsmen at the factory.

In this way, the format of the sign that Kutani Shoza and his factory began to write became widespread in the early Meiji period, and painters and pottery merchants likewise wrote their first or last names, store names (号), etc. into products with the isign of “kutani”. At the same time, before and after Meiji kutani was exhibited at the Philadelphia World Exposition in 1876, “Made by Haryna Shigeru of Dainippon kutani for Philadelphia Expo” was written in the vase by Haruna Shigeharu (春名繫春) .  Meiji kutani were exported overseas, so they had a original name of country and place such as “dai-Nippon kutani” (大日本九谷) which means the place of origin (“kutani” had two meanings, product name and production place).

At the same time, it is thought that the sign of “dai-Nippon Kutani” (大日本九谷) had the intention to associate with “Japan Kutani” and  to expand exports of Meiji kutani by pottery merchants such as Ennaka Magohei (円中孫平) and Watano (綿野吉二). As a result of these intentions, the sign of “dai-Nippon kutani” was transformed into the brand name of Meiji kutani  for Europe and the United States, and from the latter half of the Meiji period, the sign of  “kutani” was also written on domestic products. The name of “kutani” become established as a representative brand of porcelain in Japan.

reference;the sign (mark) of Meiji kutani

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