Fine Japanese art and tea implements

A Celadon âNikuchiâ Seal Paste Box by Suwa Sozan the First

A Celadon “Nikuchi” Seal Paste Box by Suwa Sozan the First

browse these categories for related items...
Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Porcelain: Pre 1910: Item # 1312037

Please refer to our stock # TRC1564 when inquiring.
Kyoto Ceramics and Fine Art
View Seller Profile
Kamigamo District
Kyoto, Japan

Guest Book
This nikuchi, or seal paste box, was created by one of the very few Imperial Court Artists of late Meiji and bears an attractive and subtle design etched on the cover. Seal paste boxes are used to hold the red ink paste used for endorsing official documents and works of art by way of an in-kan (official seal). This attractive piece by Sozan would not only be a nice addition to any comprehensive collection of his works, but could also be used as a functional item if desired.

Suwa Sozan I (1852—1922) was born in an area of what is known today as Ishikawa prefecture. After a short stint in the military he took up pottery design and painting under Touda Tokuji in 1873. From this point forward, he divided his time mainly between Kanazawa and Tokyo working at a number of kilns and research institutes. While in Tokyo, he made the acquaintance of famed conservator of Japanese art Ernest Francisco Fenollosa and the two became fast friends. In 1900 Sozan was invited to Kyoto to work at the Kinkozan kiln where he became noticed for his great skill in creating fine porcelain and celadon works. Several years later in 1907, he set up an independent porcelain and ceramics kiln on Gojo Saka in Kyoto where he specialized in making a variety of porcelain pieces, most noted of which were his fine powdery-blue celadon pieces modeled after classic Chinese forms as well as detailed porcelain statuettes.

In 1917, Sozan was awarded the title of Teishitsu Gigei-in or Imperial Court Artist—what could be considered a precursor to the modern day Ningen Kokuho or National Living Treasure. His porcelains and meticulously detailed statuettes are held in the Imperial Collection, in the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum, in the Sumitomo Collection, and in a number of private collections around the world.

This piece is 3 inches in diameter (7.5 cm) and stands 1.2 inches tall (3 cm). It bears the artist’s seal on the base and comes with an original tomobako which also bears Sozan’s signature and seal. The box has recently been repaired with a new base and looks very nice. The piece itself is in fine condition.