Kutani Shoza Factory, colored and brocade bowl with birds and beasts

explanation of the work

On this bowl, by new painting style “colored and brocade” created by Kutani Shoza in the end of the Edo period (a style of drawing fine lines in gold on the designs that are painted in various neutral colors instead of red), various designs such as birds and beasts, flowers and landscapes etc. are drawn on the entire surface. This painting style was also called “Shoza-fu” and Shoza’s painting style became a typical style. In the first half of the Meiji period the “Shoza-fu” works were created by Shoza himself and was mass-produced at Shoza painting factory.

Size diameter about 31 cm height about 9.2 cm

In the center of the bowl, the design of bird and beast, which was a representative design of Shoza, is painted with “colored and brocade”. It is said that Shoza liked the rural landscape and the scene that was usually seen in Japanese rural areas at that time. In the center of the large bowl a strong and powerful rooster is incorporated dignifiedly.


On the other hand, the Chinese-style landscape and person figure that were seen at the beginning of the Meiji period are also drawn as usual. It is an interesting design that the landscape seen through the window of the room where the literati seated seems to be the same as the landscape drawn in the left panel.



Four large flowers are drawn on green back side, and the green back side is filled with flower patterns drawn in black kuresu, which was often used by Shoza.




The back name is written as “kutani / Shoza” in a two-line writing. However, this back name is also considered to be one of several styles of the back names used by Kutani Shoza factory.

As Shoza’s fame grew, Shoza’s back name had the meaning of a so-called brand. Of course, Kutani Shoza used also back name in one-line writing that indicates that the work was created by himself, but it is very rare. Almost is a two-line writing “Kutani / Shoza” that indicates that “kutani” means kutani ware and it was a product of the factory. Nevertheless, it is said that the product with even two-line back name was regarded as “made by Kutani Shoza (his factory)”.

creator of the work

Kutani Shoza   九谷庄三

Kutani Shoza was born in 1816 as a child of an agricultural teahouse (a restaurant in a rural area) in Terai Village, Nomi county. His childhood name was “Shoshichi” (庄七), and he changed it to “Shoza” (庄三) around 1848-1854, and it is thought that he began to give his surname “Kutani” in the Meiji period because ordinary people were allowed to give their surname.

Kutani Shoza built several painting kilns at the age of 26 in 1841 and started a painting factory after training at several kilns in Nomi county at an early age. In this factory, Shoza gave rough production instructions to a large number of disciples and painters, and the works of his painting style “Shoza-fu” (composition of panels and unique designs by his style “colored and brocade”) were produced, and almost were produced with the name “Kutani / Shoza”. Shoza’s favorite design was a farming village that drew in detail the rural landscape that was often seen, or a rooster that pecked at the garden of a farmhouse.

At the factory, a lot of body purchased according to the painting style were painted with Western paints, such as the body of the Ono kiln or the body from Yahata, Hanida etc. in Komatsu, and Western paints imported from the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period were quickly adopted to their painting, and they developed the neutral colors that could not be expressed until now, so a gorgeous yet delicate and profound painting style was built. The products of “Shoza-fu” were very well received.

Kutani Shoza factory  1841-1883

In 1841, Kutani Shoza factory was opened by Kutani Shoza (1816-1883) in Terai Village, Nomi county. The factory did not have a main kiln for the body, and painted on the body purchased from the Ono kiln and others. The factory had 200 or 300 painters and mass-produced “Shoza-fu” products.

It is said that the first Takekoshi Zenbei who started his painting business in 1855, and Nisaku Nakagawa who started in 1864, assisted Shoza in this factory, and Nakano Chuji and Kasama Shuseki also helped him. Later they became master craftsmen of Meiji kutani. Therefore, the products of the factory were supervised under Shoza and their strict supervision, so it is said that the finished products of “Shoza-fu” were mass-produced under high quality. So, it was well received both in Japan and overseas.

The products of “Shoza-fu” occupied a large proportion in kutani products in the early Meiji period and became the centerpiece of “Japan Kutani”. They became the core of kutani, and were exported by pottery merchants, so were very popular overseas as trade products in Japan. And they were also sold well in Japan. Kutani Shoza greatly contributed to the development of the breeding industry in the early Meiji period.

However, when Shoza died in 1883, his high-ranking disciples became independent, so the factory had no anyone to organize the factory, and disappeared naturally. However, some painters continued to make products with the back name “kutani / Shoza”, so even after that, Shoza-fu products overflowed in the market.


reference No. 1901031
date of exhibition September 29, 2019
price sold out