Although Satsuma is allways earthenware and not porcelain, there was also porcelain ware decorated in ‘satsuma style’, and some are of exquisit quality. Kinkozan and others occasionally produced high quality porcelain objects. Porcelain
is hard, smooth and white and will never crackle in the same way as Satsuma earthenware do. Some people like and collect it, others find that it lacks the softness and warmth of earthenware, athough they admire the breathtaking brushwork on it.
- Fine crackles are a charisteristic of good quality Satsuma pottery and sometimes they are so fine that you hardly can see it. Lower quality pottery and newer pieces, have much bigger crackles. They occur as a natural process after the firing, when the
glaze and the pottery itself start to shrink in a different way. The crackles can be controlled but it takes special skils and experience to fire a piece in such a way that the crackles occur so fine, and certainly it’s more difficult as firing the enamels.
For this reason there were studio’s who ordered the glazed and crackled blanks from a good pottery and decorate it in their own workshop. Often you find therefore the names of the potter as well as the name of the decorator on an object.
quality pottery and newer pieces, have much bigger crackles as should be. In late Taisho and Showa period the crackles can be large, and in the worst examples even disturbing the overall impression instead of being an intrinsic part of the beauty of an object.
Good quality ware from the Meiji period can be recognize by the fine density and ivorycolouring (instead of grey) of the crackles, it is the main charasteristic of all good Satsuma ware.
See the picture: First row depicts a 16cm bowl by Shiseki
from 19th c. Meiji period.The crackles are very fine and ivory coloured. Below is a set of 20cm vases by Kusube, from early Showa period, the crakles are large and grey.