ARTIST / MAKER: Yabu Meizan (maker)
DATE: late 19th century (made)
PLACE: Japan (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Earthenware painted in overglaze enamels and gilt

Throughout the 1870s, Satsuma potters and painters often combined all their innovations in one piece to appeal to Western tastes. Complex shapes could incorporate moulded, pierced and embossed decoration, while the painted surface usually featured a patchwork of unrelated motifs. It was not until the late 1890s that potters began to simplify Satsuma wares due both to a change in European taste and to the increasingly high cost of skilled labour.

The different species of butterflies sparsely decorating the crackled cream ground of this teapot characterises the later work of the accomplished Satsuma painter Yabu Meizan and indicates that this teapot was likely made at the turn of the 20th century. The gilt karakusa scrolls along the handle and spout are said to represent the tentacles of an octopus, while the lid’s finial is moulded as a kiku mon, an imperial crest in the form of a chrysanthemum blossom.