Posted on 12th May 2020
Ofukai-ware began to be actively produced in the 19th century. Most of the Ofukai-ware that can be found in art dealers and antique shops today are from this period.
These Ofukai-ware include pottery made by Okamaya ordered by the Owari clan to be made as the "official pottery of the Owari clan".
The Owari clan began to stamp custom-made markings on pottery to enhance the value of Ofuke-ware as a brand.
Stamp 1: Fukai sei seal
The word "Fukai Sei" is engraved in the round frame.
This is a relatively common mark among Ofuke-ware, and it indicates that the pottery was made in Fukai.
Stamp 2: Shoshi seal
The word "Shoshi" is engraved inside the vertical frame.
It is a guarantee that this product is sealed in the Fukai method. I've seen an original Fukai seal, personally, but I've never seen a Shoshi seal. And even if I had, it would probably be a fake because genuine ones are incredibly rare and there are so many fakes out there. The word "Shoshi" means reward or prize.
The body of the seal, which was the source of the "Fukai sei" and "Shoshi" seals, has been handed down to the Tokugawa Art Museum, of the Owari-Tokugawa family. It indicates that the seals are "100% official Owari clan".
As a matter of fact, there are some Ofuke-ware on which the "Shoshi" seal has been scraped in later. As mentioned above, "Shoshi" seal is always sealed along with "Fukai sei" seal. There is only a seal "Fukai sei" if it is scraped in later.
In the Taisho-Showa period, it seemed people thought that pottery that had a "Shoshi" seal was considered to be a proof of a "free-gift" and it was considered to be less valuable than pottery which has a "Fukai sei" seal only.
Stamp 3: Sobokai seal
The word "Sobokai" is engraved in a vertical oval-shaped frame. It is commonly believed that it is imprinted on pottery made of Sobokai clay, which is ordered by the Owari clan. However, it is difficult to prove because the soil quality of the excavated pottery is uneven.
However, it is still the official seal of the Owari clan and one of the seals of Ofukai-ware. In fact, the seal of "Sobokai" has been handed down to the Tokugawa Museum of Art as well.
However, the "Sobokai" mark was also used on high-class pottery in Shitoro-ware, one of the seven Enshu kilns in Shizuoka Prefecture. This mark does not necessarily mean that it is Ofukai-ware.
Stamp4: Fukai gourd shape seal
The Fukai gourd shape seal is a seal that is still unknown. The word "Fukai" is engraved inside a frame in the shape of a gourd.
The three seals I mentioned earlier (Fukai Sei, Shoshi, and Sobokai) have been handed down to the Owari Tokugawa family, so there's no better proof that they're the official property of the Owari clan, but the trouble is, the original Fukai gourd shape seal is missing. The letter "Fukai" can be understood quite naturally as a word meaning Ofukai-ware in itself.
There is pottery with a stamp of Hirasawa Kuro or Masaki Sozaburo, who were samurai of the Owari clan, next to the gourd shape seal. From this, it is thought that the Owari clan was deeply involved with the gourd shape seal.
In addition, Gengen-sai, the 11th generation head of the Urasenke school of tea ceremony, visited Owari and made a tea bowl in the Ofukai kiln. The handmade tea bowl has been handed down through the ages to the present day. It is known that it was made in the first year of Koka (1844) because of the year number on the wooden box, and this tea bowl was also stamped with the "Fukai gourd seal".
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