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The Saigonese who owns the world’s rarest ancient Japanese pottery collection

Dao Tran Quoc Chuong, born 1974, living in District 6 in HCM City, has surprised antiques collectors in Vietnam with his invaluable collection of ancient Japanese pottery, which cannot be measured in cash.


Đại gia Sài Gòn sở hữu bộ gốm Nhật cổ hiếm gặp bậc nhất thế giới
Collector Dao Tran Quoc Chuong and the world's only pair of Satsuma ceramic vases. Photo: Nguyen Son.


Chuong owns one of the world’s rarest collection of ancient Satsuma pottery, Japan's most famous ceramic. To enhance the value of his collection, Chuong sets out four strict factors when collecting antiques.

“The items in my collection must meet the four elements. Firstly, it must be Japan's national treasure. Secondly, the item must be crafted by artisans whose names have been honored by the world. Thirdly, they must be the ones used by the Japanese royalty. Fourthly, the item must be exclusive,” Chuong said.

To illustrate the first criterion, he showed a VietNamNet reporter a 78cm high ceramic vase covered with extremely sophisticated patterns. This vase, he revealed, is Japan’s national asset, which is the only one of its kind in the world.

Đại gia Sài Gòn sở hữu bộ gốm Nhật cổ hiếm gặp bậc nhất thế giới

Gold motifs are drawn and covered with gold. Photo: Nguyen Son.

“According to information from a reputable antique broker in the world, this vase was previously gifted by the Japanese government to a senior US official. The broker affirmed the information because they have sufficient data about the material, origin and history of the vase. The bottom of the vase is also stamped by the Japanese government," Chuong added.

In addition to the vase, Vietnamese antique collectors are also overwhelmed by the size and rarity of the pair of Satsuma ceramic vases owned by Chuong. This pair of vases is 175cm high, 63cm in diameter and 70cm in diameter at the mouth. The vases are covered with patterns that recall the legendary theme of civil war and original motifs of Japan.

According to Chuong, these are the only two products of their kind in the world. “I bought this extremely rare pair of vases from a private foreign museum. To own them, I had to sell a piece of land and my house. It was also extremely difficult to bring them to Vietnam. I had to wait for eight months with a huge shipping fee to touch the two pots,” Chuong said.

Chuong said that he began collecting ancient Japanese pottery on the advice of his friends. However, the more he collected these items, the more he was attracted to the beauty of them.

Đại gia Sài Gòn sở hữu bộ gốm Nhật cổ hiếm gặp bậc nhất thế giới

The 3D embossed motifs on the antiques look like a painting with a harmonious and lively layout. Photo: Nguyen Son.

“Each culture has its own famous ceramic and porcelain lines with its own beauty recognized by the world. However, Japanese Satsuma ceramics are prized above all because this ceramic line is perfectly created by artisans with brilliant yellow color, representing Japan full of vitality,” Chuong said.

According to Chuong, this Japanese ceramic line has its own unique features that no other ceramic has. Specifically, other ceramic lines often draw individual patterns in an area, or a part of the surface of products. Japanese Satsuma pottery items are covered with 3D embossed patterns of various and extremely vivid colors.

More specifically, gold-colored motifs are all made with real gold. The other colors are made up of minerals, not paints. Although they are embossed, the motifs are very vivid and harmonious.

Observing items in his collection, viewers admire the technique of using gold and mineral colors to show fine details that even the naked eye cannot clearly see because, at that time, the artisan did not have support from modern machinery and technology. All motifs and drawings are made with the artist's skillful hands and incredible imagination.

Chuong said: “If drawing people, each character has a very lively charisma, giving viewers the feeling that they have different personalities and a connection, communication with each other …".

“If it is a landscape, the motifs are clearly displayed with a complete and vivid layout where viewers feel the scent, noise, and space the artist wanted to express. If you take pictures of the patterns on the product and put them together, the drawings will become a perfect painting,” he added.

Another special thing that makes Satsuma pottery popular with world antique collectors is that they fully express the cultural features on a product.

Chuong explained, if an item shows the Buddhist culture, the product will be covered with drawings of Arhat, Amitabha Buddha, Avalokiteshvara, Buddha Tathagata ...

Many products are seen as a slice of Japanese history from the period it was born because the artist visualized the information and events on Satsuma ceramic products through his sophisticated drawings.

Nguyen Son

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