Suwa Sozan was known best for his impeccable celadons, and was one of only five potters ever recognized with the status of Teishitsu Gigei-In (Member of the Imperial Art Academy). Lesser known is his predilection for lacquerware. An ardent Literatus and Sinophile, Sozan would try his hand at various art forms, including painting, calligraphy, carved lacquer, inlayed lacquer, porcelain and pottery. Here we have a table in the Ming style of raden (mother of pearl) decoration. Mother of pearl carved and shaped is fixed onto the black lacquered surface forming a design of classic Chinese style. The underside is bound with cloth, to prevent splitting or cracking, and is signed Sozan. The table is 41 x 65 x 19 cm (16 x 25-1/2 x 7-1/2 inches) and is in overall fine condition, enclosed in the original wooden box titled Aogai Hirajoku (Blue Shell Table) and signed Sozan Yogi. The term Yogi insinuates something made by someone who is not an expert in that craft.
Suwa Sozan I (1852-1922) was born in Kutani country, present day Ishikawa prefecture, where he initially studied before moving to Tokyo in 1875. Over the next 25 years he would gravitate between Tokyo and Kanazawa, working at various kilns and research facilities. He again relocated, this time to Kyoto in 1900 to manage the Kinkozan Studio before establishing his own. His name became synonymous with celadon and refined porcelain and was one of only five potters to be named Teishitsu Gigei-in. The Teishitsu Gigei-in were members of the Imperial Art Academy, Perhaps in modern terms one might call them the predecessors to the Living National Treasures. However unlike the LNT, there were only five Pottery artists ever named Teishitsu Gigei-in, Ito Tozan, Suwa Sozan, Itaya Hazan, Miyagawa Kozan, and Seifu Yohei III. He was succeeded by his adopted daughter upon his death. He is held in the Kyoto National Museum among many others.