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This file consist of three sections:
1: Characters what can be seen frequently within a mark, without
being part of the actual makers name.
The name of the maker can appear isolated, but it is often surrounded by several other characters. Multiple names can be listed on the
same item, for example the potters name in addition to that of the decorator. Common characters are:
- Dai Nippon: Great Japan. Is placed usually in the right column, is therefore mentioned first.
- Geographical indications such
as Satsuma or Satsuma Yaki (Satsuma work): to indicate that it is Satsuma pottery. More specific geographical indications are also found, such as Kyoto, Awata, Yokohama or Kutani. Usually it is placed after Dai Nippon, if present. The name of the maker does
not allways occur, sometimes only the indication of the region like "Satsuma" or only Dai Nippon.
- Other characters can be found directly below the last character of the name itself, meaning "created by"" . It can occur as sei, zo, tsukuru and is also
often abbreviated. The characters above are the actual maker's name, so it's a good indication for the place of the makers name
2: A list of signatures with the character 山 in it (Group 1)
Once you have isolated the
characters for the makers name by excluding the other characters, you will find that many of the signatures appears to end with the character 山, pronounced yama which means mountain. If it appears in the name, however, it is usually pronounced as Zan, for
example Kinkozan, Taizan or Meizan, only occasionally as Yama, for example Kazuyama.
3: A list of signatures without this 山 in it (Group 2).
A brief guideline for the identification of a maker, found on
a piece of Satsuma.
- Be aware that Japanase is read from left to right and from top to bottom. In more complicated marks you must read 'the columns, not the rows.
- Once you have identify the caracters for makers name, go to group 1 or 2,
depending whether you find this 山 character in a makers name.
- Count the number of characters. Most makers name has two or three characters. When there is a 山 in the name, it can be reduced to a single character what have to be identified.
- Focus on easy to scan elements in a character.
For instance: 大 日本 薩摩焼 保土田 製 (Dai Nippon Satsumayaki Hododa Sei )
- Exclude all the common characters, what is not part of the actual name (Dai Nippon,
Satsuma yaki and sei). What is left are these three characters 保土田 being the makers name.
- There is no 山 in the name, so go to group 2, being the list of names without a yama character.
- Focus on the character or characters what
is easy to recognize. In this case it can be the last two characters 土田. Follow the list of names from A to Z, but keep focussing on 土田.
- Unless you are familiair with the Japanese language, remember that you are not 'reading' a text,
but 'comparing' an image in your head with the picture on the screen. This 'scanning' can be done fast and easy. Once you have recognize 土田 in the list, you can identify the full signature as 保土田, being Hododa. The other characters you allready had identified,
so you can read the wole mark 大 日本 薩摩焼 保土田 製 now as Dai Nippon Satsumayaki Hododa Sei, translated as: Satsuma ware, made in Great Japan by Hododa.