satsuma003Kiriko is the Japanese name for cut glass that has incised ornamentation on its surface. The Shimazu clan (Kagoshima prefecture) began manufacturing Satsuma kiriko in 1846 when Shimazu Narioki (1791-1859), the tenth lord of the Shimazu clan, recruited glass artisans from Edo (Tokyo). Books from Nagasaki that described foreign glass manufacturing techniques were also consulted.

Shimazu Nariakira(1809-1858), the eleventh lord of Shimazu clan, also promoted the craft and succeeded in coloring of crimson, indigo, purple, green, and yellow.

The beautiful Satsuma kiriko, also called Satsuma garasu or Satsuma biidoro, was a very advanced product for the time. Many noble people loved the glass and sent it as gifts to feudal lords; for example, Princess Atsu-hime included in her dowry. Although the glass was exported to Western countries, its technique and history were lost during the Seinan War (a civil war) and the upheavals at the end of the Edo period. As a result, very few examples of Satsuma kiriko remain today. They are very valuable and are sold at high prices as antiques.

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