Mystery potter #40: Incised line with three accents

Woodfired vase
Woodfired vase. Base

Wood-firers who visit our gallery are often drawn to this small vase tucked away on a top shelf in the workroom.  It has been glazed in the Bizen style, a process named after the Japanese city of Bizen, produced by a long wood-firing, with resulting heavy ash deposits and other effects.

Australian potters interested in Bizen work include Jane Barrow, Len Cook, Heja Chong, Ian Currie, Stephen Fry, Ian Jones, Col Levy, Phillip McC0nnell and Simon Reece,  but the incised mark on this vase is different from any of their recorded marks.

I was interested to read in Janet Mansfield’s article on “Wood-firing and the Australian identity” in The Journal of Australian Ceramics, April 2010, p. 64, that Heja Chong had fired her anagama Bizen-style kiln for nine days, “showing us the full possibilities that long-firing could yield”.

This vase could come from one of the possibly more than one hundred long-firing kilns to be found throughout Australia, according to Mansfield, or it may have been a pot made in Japan and bought to Australia by a potter or collector. In any case, our 0.99 cent investment in 2005 has given us much pleasure, enriching our knowledge and discernment of wood-fired ceramics.


  1. Hi Sue, Happy new year! I was quite surprised to find I had posted this when I got up this morning. There was also an empty drumstick icecream wrapper next to the computer. I must have felt the need to make one more entry in 2010.

    1. Hi Carmen, Thank you for this! I will take your advice that it is Japanese. There are many ways in which it could have made its way to Australia. I would be very pleased to find that it is Nakazato Shigetoshi’s work, but the mark is just different enough for me to hold off on an attribution.

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