Today we will explore some of the pots created by Heian Kouzan. Kouzan is known for his pot design which are very strong but with a soft feel. In our opinion this is principally through the design of his feet. Kouzan is known for his pot glazes, distinctive pot shapes and the value of his pots are up there with the very best. For more on this subject you can read our earlier post on his pots. So let’s look as some of his more unusual pots.
This particular glaze color was used very often by Kouzan and helps us quickly identify this as one of his pots. Like many of the famous potters in Japan, their pots are replicated (fakes) and are sold as originals. It helps to pay very close attention to Kouzan’s hanko to help identify those that are not real. Also pay close attention to the clay he used.
This is a more unusual design by Kouzan. What makes it different is the rope design at the top and bottom of the pot and that it is hand painted. Most of Kouzan’s pots are simply glazed in one or more colors.
Notice the sharpness of the pots but the softer feet. That combined with the glaze gives this pot a warm feeling even though the pot shape could be defined as rather strong.
A very nice glaze and companion pot to the one above. As was sometimes common, the potter created two similar pots and then sold them as a pair with a kiri-bako box to store them. Today, one would expect to pay between $3-5000 US for this pair.
Somewhat more unusual was three pots sold together. These pots have a virtually identical shape and size but have very different glazes. Which do you like the best?
We really like the glaze in Pot 1 but wouldn’t it be nice to own all three. A very unusual feature of Pot 3 is the hanko on the side of the pot. We have been told through our research that for the potter to do this he has to be very proud of his work. You certainly wouldn’t want your name on something that visible unless you believed it represented some of your best work.
We can also speculate that three pots like this may have been made specifically for a customer. It is easy to see these pots were used and not just put up in a cabinet for viewing. We enjoy that aspect of use as it gives more age and value to the pot. Now I know we say that and our Kouzan is in fact stored in a display cabinet and has never been used. We also know we only own one and want to take care of it!
Kouzan Artist Marks
As with many of the fine potters, they use various artist marks (hanko, chop marks) to identify their works of art. Here are a few of those used by Kouzan. Some readily identifiable and a few that are rarely seen; at least by us.
Notice there are three marks with the rightmost one being the one on the side of Pot 3 above.
Perhaps the most easily identifiable hanko.
We have included this mark again to make an important point. Notice the top character as there is a slash mark on the left and right. Do you see the longer stroke is on the left and the shorter stroke is on the right. On some fake Kouzan pots these strokes are reversed with the short stroke on the left and the longer stroke on the right. Without paying careful attention, the rest of the mark looks virtually identical; however, this reversal is a clear indicator that the pot is a fake! Be careful when spending a significant amount of money on a high quality pot. You want to get the real one.
Kouzan is one of our favorite potters. His excellence use of glaze and strong but soft design is quite unique.
If you wish to purchase a book that focuses on his pots visit our blog post here. There are also instructions on where you can purchase it.