This Japanese Contemporary Arita porcelain 'bunchin 文鎮' or paperweight by the very famous Hitachi Tsuji 14th, 辻常陸 Imperial Artist to Japan was made about 30 years ago according to the Japanese seller and is newer than the other pieces we have made by this very famous and culturally important Japanese kiln. It was over the course of several years that we have managed to collect these three pieces and am now sharing them in the store. This one is made as a paperweight, an excellent form of office or artist studio art to hold those important papers down. It is a very fine and finely decorated high-quality piece in a gorgeous color of cobalt underglaze blue. A crab is in the middle, and two wonderfully stylized phoenix or Hou-ho bird and clouds surround the sides. It is signed with the mark of Hitachi Tsuji 14th, 辻常陸, The Hō-ō 鳳凰 or Hou-ou bird in Japan represents one of 'Four Celestial Guardians of Four Directions'. The phoenix represents rebirth, not just in Asian countries and religions but all over the world and most religions. It comes with a tomobako or the original signed box made especially for this item which is very important to the value and future care and storing of the piece. The box is also a nice quality one with inserts on the lid that go down inside the box which can be seen in the last picture. Based on what we have learned and shared in an update today, this is most likely made by the current 14th Hitachi Tsuji given name Tokichi Toshio Tsuji whose site Tokichi can be found under our Favorites Links.
SIZE : Diameter 4.5 inches or 11.43 cm, Height 1.1 inches or 2.79 cm. Weight total 550 grams or 1.21 lbs pre-packed wo tomobako
It is in excellent condition, no cracks or chips. 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: Based on the dating information from the seller in Japan, this was made by the 14th generation Tsuji Hitachi b. 1909- d. 2007, whom we learned that 十四代 辻常陸 Jyuyondai Tsuji Hitachi is the complete name of the potter. However, this name was not represented on the signautre sheet we have which covers earlier pieces only. I am still trying to make sure we have dating and Master potters correct on two more pieces.
This information was found for another piece- the vase we just added, but in our opinion is the same for this one as well. thanks to Yoshio Kusaba-san was kind enough to find this additional information for us which translates; 'He assumed the 14th generation mark on his 80th birthday in 1988 when he had his first solo exhibition; Translated from a site in Japan, and as written in Japanese language; 年昭和63年、傘寿を記念して、十四代として初の個展を開催した。こうして彼の作品、並びに辻家に伝わる作品がようやく一般の目にも触れられる機会を得たのである'。He also said that if this information is correct, our vase dates from 1988 or later. Rest of translation: 'He had his first solo exhibition; in 1988 or in Showa 63, to commemorate 傘寿, the fourteenth of the first solo exhibition was held. In this way his works, as well as tsuji handed down in the family finally works the eyes of the general public to get the opportunity. In the past and 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.
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 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 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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