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Heian Kouzan



HEIAN KOUZAN (平安香山) Part 2


In this article, part 2, we’ll take a look at unglazed Heian Kouzan, the pots of Heian Kouzan 2nd Generation, some shohin bonsai in Heian Kouzan pots, and Heian Kouzan artist marks.








It’s easy to see that this a masterpiece of first generation Kouzan pottery. The burnished clay is lovely, and the pot’s strong lines are softened up considerably by the feet and bottom band.






While the photo quality of this selection of views of the pot isn’t great, one can still see the great craftsmanship, and rare, early post-war triple stamp.






The unglazed brother to the quartet of glazed KouOu pots in part 1. Clean lines and lovely clay with a great burnished finish.






This selection comes from frequent contributor to my website Matt Ouwinga of Kaede Bonsai En. The clay is more rustic than typical Kouzan pots.






An unglazed KouOu from my collection. The 6 footed base and hemp rope rim are characteristic Kouzan, used in both early and late work. For an incredible example of earlier work, fired in a climbing kiln
(noborigama), in this style, see Peter Warren’s translated article in the Bonsai Focus (March / April 2013). There’s a great piece in there with a fine oil droplet glaze!






Detail of the bottom showing the feet and KouOu porcelain signature.







A matched pair of KouOu with box and signed cloth. It’s rare to find Kouzan or KouOu with signed box and cloth, rarer still to find a matched pair. The strong bold lines of the pots are typical of KouOu unglazed pots.






A brown clay pot with Kouzan’s typical strong lines and cloud feet.







A semi cascade square Kouzan.






A very typical Kouzan with brown clay and cloud feet. Straight lines and clean work from “the Razor Kouzan”.






A shallow rectangle in red clay, from my collection. Although it’s signed “Kouzan” I believe it to be from a short while before taking the name “KouOu”.






And for our last look at unglazed Kouzan, we have an unglazed rectangle with black landscape. The pot itself, with it’s clean, sharp lines is characteristic of Kouzan’s work, though the black overglaze enamel is a rarity.






Second Generation Kouzan are most typically rounds, as Kouzan Jr was a master of the wheel. While his non wheel thrown pots are nice, they don’t approach the quality and fine detail of the father.






A trio of Kouzan Jr’s from my collection. The taller cascade is typical of Kouzan Jr work, as are the two different sized Kinyo ovals.






A yellow crackle from second Generation Kouzan. A really excellently glazed piece.








A very atypical Kouzan Jr. The glaze work is very nice and unique. Note the signature at the upper left: “Shin Kouzan”.







The most commonly seen Kouzan marks. The last two were used by both the 1st and 2nd generation, but are much more common on second generation pots.









These stamped chops are first generation, and and are regarded as early work.







This one is a true rarity, and seen on both 1st and second generation Kouzan. The chop is called “Yamaha Sen”, and Kouzan pots with this chop were specially commissioned by Mr. Hatanaka, author of the famous book on bonsai pottery.







Early edition nail carved first generation signature.






Shin Kouzan, second generation nail carved signature.










A really nice chicken blood glazed oval holding a very very nice “stinky maple”. The deciduous Japanese Premna is my favorite species of late, they’re unbelievably vigorous and ramify very fast.







Japanese Winterberry (Umemodoki) in a Ko-Kinyo oval from Second Generation Kouzan.







Kinrobai, or potentilla, and a very nice one at that, in a darker blue glazed Kouzan shallow rectangle.







Chirimen Kazura, or dwarf asiatic jasmine, in a robins egg glazed rectangle with cloud feet.







Black pine in an unglazed Kouzan rectangle. Most Kouzan are a bit too shallow and not Imposing enough for top of the rack shohin, but this one works well.







White pine in an unglazed Kouzan. A really nice pairing.






Another Umemodoki, Ilex serrata, in a light blue first generation Kouzan. I never get tired of red fruiting varieties in blue pots.






Broom Style Zelkova in a blue first generation Kouzan oval. A designated treasure shohin bonsai.







Trident maple in a characteristic Kouzan rectangle.







This is something unique! We don’t often see Shinpaku in glazed pots, much less recognized shohin treasures! Somehow, it works, though it’s certainly off putting at first, as nothing more than custom.







A raft, or sinuous root, style trident maple (Kaede) bonsai in a deeper blue glazed Kouzan. Often, artists will leave the glaze off the feet to show off the clay. In this case, the clay compliments the trunk color, a very nice detail.






And last, I stepped outside this afternoon and snapped a quick pic of one of my shohin Zelkova brooms, in a yellow second generation Heian Kouzan pot. Here in the deep deep south of the USA (Mississippi), early November is still early fall, before the leaves change. This was one of the trees I was planning to use for a shohin display submission for a show that was postponed. A few days in the fridge and Bam! Red and yellow fall colors days before the show. Would’ve looked great with the yellow Kouzan pot. Already looking forward to the next occasion!


Article and photographs published with kind permission of Michael Ryan Bell.



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