The Cloisonne Totai Shippo Tea Caddy (Natsume) is of 3 parts. The container which is square, the circular inner undecorated Satsuma lid and the circular outer Cloisonné decorated top. Having the inner lid intact is a plus, as so often they are missing or very damaged.
The top lid is a hunter green ground color with a central butterfly. The 4 sides each have a scene of a different ground color and image, all are framed in lime green. The 4 sides seem to depict the 4 seasons. The 2 lighter backgrounds, a light lavender blue, and a light turquoise blue, each have a butterfly and a potted plant. The 2 darker sides, a deep rust red and the other a black brown color, have only a potted plant. Thus, these 4 scenes invite the comparison to the 4 seasons.
Condition: Good. The matte finish of the Totai Shippo Cloisonné with the ground ceramic surface never has the polished look of some of the other types of Cloisonné. There are more pits and rough spots with Totai Shippo pieces and this Tea Caddy is no exception. There are 2 small abrasions on the shoulder edge above the lavender blue scene. Also it appears that all 8 corners have been polished to or almost to the base ceramic, but this is as the maker produced the piece.
Age: later Meiji period
Marks: It is marked and very difficult to read. It appears to read Kinunken, maker, who would have been in Yamashiro – Kyoto Prefecture. One reference indicated that Kinunken did almost all Satsuma work but occasionally produced a Totai Shippo piece.
Dimensions: 3 15/16" square. Height to the shoulder edge: 3 ¼"; Height to the top of the lid: 4 ¼".
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