This is a vintage and superb example of Kutani ware in the form of Fukurokuju. Fukurokuju, (along with Ebisu, Daikoku, Benten, Hotei, Jurojin, and Bishamon), is one of the delightful Seven Lucky Gods, called Shichifukujin (shichi [seven], fuku [luck], jin [person]). He is the god of wealth, happiness, and longevity. This bearded deity has an identifiably elongated forehead and dome-shaped bald head symbolizing wisdom and age. He is typically shown in the customary garments of a Chinese scholar, and in this case, he is holding a scroll, (makimono), of sacred teaching, which includes all the wisdom of the world.
This Fukurokuju is exceptionally detailed, and has beautifully glazed garments in deep red and turquoise, and features hand-painted patterns in gold trim over the garment and scroll that is held in his hands. He has an unglazed bisque head and beard with a wonderfully warm facial expression, with the traditional elongated ear lobes, all combined with a white slip glazed interior finish. This combination is extremely unusual and dates around the late 1920s. The piece has no chips, dings, scratches, or repairs, though it does have some minor stains and blemishes on the unglazed portion of the head and face age and being on display. There is an impressed mark on the lower backside of the piece with the artist’s name and period. Dimensions: 7-1/2”h x 4-1/2” dia.
Fukurokuju originated from an old Chinese tale about a mythical Chinese Taoist hermit sage renowned for performing miracles during the Northern Song period (960-1279). In China, this hermit, (also known as Jurojin), was a member included in the earliest representations of the Seven Lucky Gods.
Kutani differs from other Japanese ceramics due to its use of powerful, bold, and magnificent designs and motifs using five main colors: green, yellow, red, blue and gold. There are five styles of Kutani ware: The Mokubei, style which has a hint of Chinese influence; Yoshidaya, famous as the blue Kutani style; Iidaya known for its detailed red pictures; Eiraku, with images of gold with other gorgeous colors; and Shoza, which features gold coloring on red-based pictures. Kutani from these early periods are referred to as Ko-Kutani and are extremely rare because of their delicate parts, (fingers and facial features/clothing/cultural details), which are often missing. At this time it is almost impossible to find anyone who can repair pieces because of the work and craftsmanship required.
Excellent Condition- In unused, or like-unused condition. No visual or structural or surface wear or damage shown. Pristine. As good as the day it was made.
Great Condition- Appears in slightly used condition but looks "Like New". Some minor wear, but retains the original craft/workmanship. May show minor wear, that does not affect the main design, or associated motif. No cracks, dents, chips or missing elements.
Good Condition- Minor wear which can be restored or repaired; may have surface flaws, like staining or soiling, confined to a small area. The flaw(s) are counterbalanced by another feature, like brilliant color or innovative design. Some fading or the piece may have been altered in some fashion.
Fair Condition- Main aesthetic/design showing damage. Excessive noticeable wear or damage. Worth buying if can be restored/repaired because of its aesthetic or design appeal or rarity. Note: wear/damage consistent with age/use can often enhance the 'Antique' qualities of a piece, giving it a desirable second chance in one's collection