Satsuma Vase: detail of border beneath main decorations
Circa 1900, Japanese Meiji Period, Satsuma Vase by the artisan Suke Yama working in the Ryozan studio in Kyoto.Signed in liquid gold, Suke Yama, inside the small gourd shape to the base and bearing the gold on black seal mark for Ryozan studio.The whole elaborately and exquisitely hand painted with two scenes based on Taoist and Mahayana Buddhist legendry / religious themes which developed over millennia and are still a basis
for devotional belief in China and Japan. The two scenes are united with elaborately executed polychrome panels of brocade and floral patterns embellished with liquid gold.
One side depicts the eight immortals on their journey through the earthly world teaching and helping mortals. Here they are seen teaching and entertaining a group of children.
Identifiable by their symbolic attributes are:
He Xiangu a pure maiden who floats on clouds or lotus leaves and exists by eating mother of pearl powder and moonbeams.
Lu Dongbim who crosses the sea standing on his magic sword named “Chan Yao Kuai” which translates as the “Devil Slaying Sabre” presented to him by the fire dragon.
Zhang Guolao who is releasing a miniature mule from a bag. The mule is his mode of transport to cover great distances.
Li Tiequai who creates miniature images of himself by blowing into the air.
He Xiangu who is seen flying on a crane a symbol of immortality.
Liu Haichan (Gama Sennin) with his mythical toad.
The opposing side depicts eighteen Arhats of Mahayana Buddhism.
An Arhat is a person who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana.
Mahayana Buddhism regards the group of eighteen Arhats, with names and personalities, as awaiting the return of the Buddha as Maitreya, a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment and teach the pure dharma meaning cosmic law and order.
Arhats can be seen as the Buddhist equivalents of the Christian saints, apostles or early disciples and leaders of the faith.Circa 30cm or 12” tall x 25 cm or 10” diameter.
Our gratitude to Mr Tom Kiernan, author of The Best Book on Satsuma for assistance with the interpretation of the signature on this object.