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Know more for his works of powdery-blue celadon, on occasion Sozan also produced fine white porcelains as well. This delicately-crafted porcelain kashibachi (sweets bowl) is one such example. Displaying a wonderful low-relief vine and leaf pattern on a backdrop of nearly eggshell thin ivory-white porcelain—this is a rare and interesting composition by Sozan I.
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 7.8 inches in diameter (19.9 cm) and stands 2.6 inches tall (6.5 cm). It bears the the artist’s seal on the base and comes with a kantei-bako signed by Sozan II certifying that this piece is an exceptional work by Sozan I. The box lid reads 鳥の子 (tori no ko) = A type of Japanese washi. The bowl is thus described to highlight the thinness of the construction (used in the same way one might use the descriptor “eggshell” thin). International shipping and insurance included in the price.