This Japanese porcelain kogo or box was made by the kiln or studios of Famous Hitachi Tsuji, Imperial Artist to Japan. The Tsuji family has a long history of making porcelain and serving the Imperial House of Japan, as you will see below. This very special piece appears to have been made as a kogo. A kogo is a box most often used for placing incense in at the tea ceremony. Kogo make wonderful decorative items and small boxes for storing other small items. This is a handmade piece from a most skilled artist or possibly the Master of the Tsuji kilns. The entire piece inside and out is hand-painted in underglaze cobalt blue. The outside is decorated with 'sansui' or a scenery decoration of a castle on a hill overlooking a body of water with a bridge going from one hill or mountain to the other.
The entire inside of the kogo is is filled with a connecting motif of an old spiritual mark of very deep meaning to Japan, the Swastika. The crooked cross is a historical sacred symbol in all Eastern religions. It is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It’s first recorded occurrence dates back to the 6th to 5th millennium BC when it was used in the 'Vinca script' of Neolithic Europe. To discuss this here could take another page or two, but the word swastika come from the Sanskrit and it means 'that which is associated with well-being.' Its meaning is one of luck and well-being. It has been used consistently around the world, even in the U.S. as a good-luck charm, especially by early aviators. The international public will not hear or know much about this family of potters as compared to'other famous makers and artist of Japan, because historically their works have not been made available to the public. Their older items becoming increasingly rare and in demand as the years go by, and what is available will stay in collections in Japanese homes. The Kakiemon House is called the kiln for the ordinary people, and the Imaemon House is called the kiln for the feudal domain while the Tsuji House is called the kiln for the Imperial Household.
The bottom of this fine kogo is signed and was made by the Hitachi Tsuji 辻常陸 b. 1909- d. 2007, the 14th Imperial Artist to Japan. Most likely this was made during the Showa period and is between 40-50 years old., the Showa period of December 25, 1926 – January 7, 1989. As translated below in the history of servicing the Imperial House, works of Tsuji have not been sold to a private citizen, those that have are kept in the homes in Japan. It is extremely difficult for a private citizen to purchase Tsuji's works. Now, we will start sharing what we have with you. Please see new information wehave added below as well as the link to the Tokichi site in our Favorites links.
SIZE: Diameter: 3 in. or 7.4 cm , Height about 1 1/2 in.
This very special kogo is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, or repairs. Please see the pictures and ask any questions. We are non-house smokers and do not smoke around our wares and our very careful with them to have clean hands and in the packing. We have noticed smells from items received recently, again please let us know if you have any questions. This one has no smells, this is from a well- known and honest, quality antiques dealer's piece.
The Fourteenth Tsuji House, Hitachi Tsuji 辻常陸
Hitachi Tsuji is currently in the 14th generation of the Tsuji House, a distinguished family that has been making porcelains for the Japanese Imperial Household for more than 300 years. Compared with other porcelain painters in Arita such as ‘Kakiemon’ and ‘Imaemon’, the Tsuji name is not as well-known by the public. One reason is the Tsuji House has worked mainly for Imperial Household and as a result, its works have been unavailable on the market. The Kakiemon House is called the kiln for the ordinary people, and the Imaemon House is called the kiln for the feudal domain while the Tsuji House is called the kiln for the Imperial Household. Update April 21st: The current Hitachi Tsuji given name is Tokichi Toshio Tsuji, I just found his site today and will be added this site to our favorite links and trying to confirm age on all of our pieces. If I am understanding the interpreted pages correctly, the newest Master Potter of the 15th Hitachi Tsuji house is Tokichi Toshio Tsuji. As I understand from new information we have found, this descendant potter has been making pottery for 37 years, but according to his site just opened in June of 2015. so an update to the history we had. From what I understand, this is the first time selling like this. Instead of adding more history here, we are adding the link to the Tokichi site, as I think it is not only important for you to see the history and how it is made, as well as the products.
The present generation of the Tsuji House, Hitachi Tsuji never neglects his work and study. His work was applicable to fine art, and he put traditional technique of ‘Someni-shiki’ porcelain with underglaze blue and overglaze enamels to the practical use of new and fully worked-out design. His work won the admiration in a field of art. The fourteenth generation of the Tsuji House, Hitachi Tsuji, made western-style tableware with a pattern of roses for the first time after the World War II. The Emperor and the Empress in Japan have been using them. He accepted an order with honour, making arabesque pattern ‘Sometsuke’ blue underglaze using cobalt oxide on white porcelain plates with the Imperial Chrysanthemum crest. In Spring of 1990, Hitachi Tsuji made a cup for the coming-of-age ceremony of the Imperial princess Norinomiya. In fall of 1990, Hitachi Tsuji made a golden cup for ‘Daijyousai’ of enthronement, and the Emperor accepted with pleasure.
In 1811, as a result of his special effort, the eighth generation of Tsuji invented a unique firing. The work from that firing reached an extreme beauty of porcelain, and was named ‘Gokushi,n-yaki’. Working for the Imperial Household dictates the absolute best porcelains be made all the time. Compared with ‘Somenishiki Porcelain with underglaze blue and overglaze Enamels’, ‘Sometuke Blue Underglaze using cobalt oxide Gosu, in Japanese ‘requires delicate and demanding craftsmanship because all artistic effects must be expressed by the porcelain painters through the use of only one colour, cobalt blue. ‘Somestuke’ porcelain have fascinated people all over the world throughout the age and account for a significant percentage of the world’s porcelain and ceramics due to its popularity. However, very few porcelain painters produce ‘Somestuke’ at present. Of these who do make somestuke works, the Fourteenth Tsuji, Hitachi Tsuji, is recognized as a superb artist crafts and of traditional arts to perfection.
The Legend and History of the Tsuji House
In Arita, the birthplace of white porcelain, the Tsuji House has 350-year history and superb technique for making white porcelain. Since the generation of Emperor Reign, the one hundred*eleventh Emperor 1664, the Tsuji House has been taking order of tableware from the Japanese Imperial Household.
The House of Tsuji was the first kiln making white porcelain tableware for the Japanese Imperial Household. In 1706, the fourth generation of Tsuji, Kiuemon took an order of direct porcelain's supply to the Japanese Imperial Household. As the Emperor's wishes, Kiuemon accepted an official position of ‘Hitachi-Daijyou’, and was honored with an imperial message and an Imperial cup. In Meiji Era, the Tsuji House has continued to make white porcelain tableware to the Japanese Imperial Household, and most of their works were supplied to the Japanese Household. Therefore, the works sold to private citizen. were quite few. It was extremely difficult for private citizen to purchase Tsuji's works. Accordingly, among people who love porcelains, the works of Tsuji were thought much of. The third generation of Tsuji, Kiuemon, were peerless, and supplied excellent white porcelains to the Japanese Imperial Household. Kiuemon Tsuji won the admiration from Emperor Region.
Through the Second master of feudal domain of Saga, Mr. Mitsushige Nabeshima, Tsuji took a determination as a kiln that makes porcelains for the Japanese Imperial Household, and received a special lantern with a pattern of the Imperial Chrysanthemum crest. The lantern was placed high position to light up the kiln covered by a hanging screen. In 1844, the tenth generation of Tsuji was given ‘Oshitone’; the emperor's framed throne from Emperor Koukaku. It has been kept at the House of Tsuji as an heirloom. In 1871, the eleventh generation of Tsuji, Katsuzo, resigned the official position of ‘Hitachi-Daijyou’ as a result of Japanese government system reformation, and was given an Imperial cup. In 1874, Tsuji was given order of all tableware used at the Japanese Imperial Household. Katsuzo made the first western-style white porcelains in Japan, and supplied them to the Japanese Imperial Household.
In 1879 the Tsuji reserved a title of ‘The purveyor to the Imperial Household’ Since this emperor’s generation. the Tsuji has concentrated on making high-class porcelain arts and tableware for the Japanese Imperial Household. In these years, he sent his arts to exhibition inside and outside of Japan, and received prizes several times.
The above history was translated and written by my friend Keith Jennings and is also found on 'ceramica wikia', the link to which we will add to our 'Favorites' links on our homepage.
The fourteenth generation of the Tsuji House still services the Imperial Household to this day.
References: The book 'Modern & Contemporary Marks on Hizen Ceramics' has a page on Tsuji marks, page 67. We have a scanned and added that as the last page with the pictures above.
Pieces with this mark are also noted in three other references: 1. Japan Antique Collection published by the Kyushi Ceramics Association. Page 140 2. Antique Collection by Oiso Kenichiro on Page 52 3. And 8 references in Hizen Tojishiko by Nakajima Hiroki
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