This Japanese rare antique Koto Ware or Koto u~ea porcelain blue and white kogo or incense holder was a rare find, coming from a closed Meiji period kiln. The Koto Ware kiln closed in 1890, the late 19th century part of the Meiji period, of 1868-1912. A kogo with a handle is also a rare find. In general a kogo is a box most often used for placing incense in at the tea ceremony. The traditional method is to hand roll the incense balls and place them in the kogo. Kogo also make wonderful decorative items and small boxes for storing other small items in.
According to the seller from Osaka, Japan, the design is named after the Sumida River in Tokyo or called Sumida gawa. The blue and white designs are intended to represent the artists rendition of what was once one of the most beautiful rivers in Japan. The two parts are painted in three sections of repeating designs; the bottom the waves, the middle a traditional design seen on many items from Japan, and the top flowers and foliage. There is even a simple scrolling white design under the handle on the lid to make it look as if first painted then pulled up to create the handle leaving the blank spot underneath. It is a fine white hand molded piece of porcelain painted in underglaze blue, and again a rare piece. The age is dated to at least the early Meiji period 1890 if not earlier.
There are dirt stains on the bottom and where the two pieces meet. If one so desired there are several safe methods of cleaning but I am leaving as is, the pictures tend to enhance the dirt or stain appearance. A very special and rare Koto ware kogo, signed on the inside of the lid. Please see the detailed history below. this is Koto, not Kyoto ware. It is inscribed inside the lid into the porcelain and under the glaze with the Koto name. We pulled from inventory unpacked and added a picture to show this inscription. In the process of doing so we found a glaze hairline which is a very fine crack that is only visible on one side, it is not a through and through or hairline crack, please see all of the pictures. We were not aware of it so may be as Brent said below. It is otherwise in excellent condition with no damages or chips and the hairline in the glaze has remained stable, I am not even sure it is ready or will be for a kintsugi repair. Brent says it looks like it was originally a kiln defect in the corner as it is a little bumpy there where they pulled up the piece to make the ever so fine handle; and in transit developed this mark in the glaze. It is still a very rare kogo of wonderful Japanese history and artistic design. In addition to the below article from Robert Yellin, I have added a link under our Favorites Links on our homepage which will take you to more information about the Koto Kiln and for a view of some of their pieces.
SIZE: Width 3" or 7.6 cm, Depth 2.1" or 5.4 cm. Height 1.9"or 4.8 cm
History of Koto Ware 琴ウェア Koto u~ea
The following is from the well known art collector, gallery owner and writer, Robert Yellin, writing on his site eyakimono, a link to which can be found in our Favorite links on our home page. For more details on Koto-Yaki, plus 21 photos, see the link on the end of this history by Robert on his site.
Koto-yaki. Koto wares were ceramic products made in and around Hikone Castle of Ominokuni of Shiga Prefecture. The first kiln is said to have been the Kinuya kiln in the castle town of Hikone, which started operation around 1829. In 1842 it fell under the protection of the Hikone clan as a clan-operated kiln and its size was expanded and techniques were improved. The aim was to produce high-class ceramic products. It was Ii Naosuke, the 13th lord of the Hikone clan, who was the most eager to produce ceramics. He invited potters from all over Japan and summoned painters such as Kosai and Meiho from Kyoto, thus trying to improve the wares. However, Ii was killed by assassins outside of the Sakurada Gate in 1860, and thereafter Koto wares lost the protection of the clan. It then turned into a privately owned kiln, known as the Yamaguchi kiln, and continued in operation until 1895. Many superior works were made, such as Aka-e kinsai, blue and white porcelain and a wide variety of other wares such as celadon, and copies of Ko-Kutani, Oribe, and Ninsei.
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