Satsuma lithophane tea cup
delicate, vintage, porcelain piece.
Geisha coyly gazes through bottom’s intaglio.
Textured, intricate moriage, painted gold, showcases
heavily embellished Japanese figures and
enhances their depth and dimension.
Carefully hand-painted to add affect–
with fragile features colorfully outlined,
wearing elaborate costumes,
depicting tales of historical lore
or ardent lovers’ interludes.
Landscape scenes and encircling dragons
add mythic charm to the surface,
an allure rich with detailed art and beauty.

Satsuma teacup and plate

Lithophane of Geisha

Photos:  Google Images

Satsuma is a Japanese style of pottery noted for its intricate designs using Japanese figures, landscape scenes and sometimes dragons.  The designs can also feature a form of decoration called moriage which is a term used to describe raised enamel often painted with gold.  I own a tea cup of this pottery (exactly like the one in the photo) which I received as a gift.  It is over 100 years old and has the beautiful texture of moriage for which it is so well known.  And to my delight has a lithophane as shown here of a Geisha in the bottom of the cup.

It’s Wonderful???Wednesday #2–Weird at Poets United:

After seeing the prompt, I couldn’t help but share this about my Satsuma teacup.  I only have the one cup and I don’t use it for tea drinking…it’s decorative only.  I too think it’s more wonderful than weird!

Leave a comment


  1. YOURS is gorgeous! So happy your shared! Wow….
    I loved your poem, so beautiful~
    YOUR cup n’ your art is so well defined 😀
    I really enjoyed it~


  2. Beautiful piece Gayle!


  3. The teacup is indeed too beautiful to be used for drinking tea. Such detail! I would be looking at the artwork on it and the tea would grow cold!

    The poem fits perfectly. 🙂


  4. They are such gifted artists and that it tells a story makes it so much more than just a work of art.


  5. Wonderul response, Gayle! You are amazing.


  6. thank you for sharing… it was beautiful


  7. Tatius T. Darksong

     /  September 26, 2012

    wonderful description and excellent artwork both a work of art


  8. Your cup is so beautiful!!!!!!! Interesting information about it. Maybe on a very special day, you will , with great ceremony, make ONE cup of tea in that cup, just to see if it tastes better:)


    • One of my sisters gifted me with that cup. She collected a few pieces of Satsuma and thought I would appreciate it too…I sure do…it’s beautiful. Well, maybe just once I may have a cup of tea using it…just once… 🙂 Thanks, Sherry.


  9. How wonderful and serendipitous that you had a cup of such beauty to share with us for this prompt – it is, as others have mentioned, absolutely gorgeous – as is your poem – thank you.


  10. I loved the words here,intaglio, morage…very intricate piece…the poem i mean,:)


  11. Thanks for the explanation–I was a bit lost with some of the words you used in the poem. I’ve always found intricately fashioned tea cups both beautiful and fascinating–works of art, really.


    • Well, I was’t familiar with those words either before researching Satsuma and how it was made. It really is beautiful…yes, a piece of art.


  12. Wonderful. Now I know of Satsuma and I look forward to using it. You use your words so delicately and your meaning comes out coyly, elegantly.

    echoes of the hills.


    • I was very happy to share my (little bit of) knowledge about Satsuma…it’s so pretty. Thank you, echoes of the hills, for a very nice comment…I appreciate it.


  13. oh my…that is pretty amazing…what art…love the outside, it is beautiful….it might be a little weird though having someone stare up at me from my tea though…ha…


    • Yes, it’s so beautiful…I love Satsuma. I wonder what the significance of the Geisha at the bottom of the cup is…something else to research… Thanks, Brian.


  14. Androgoth

     /  September 27, 2012

    This is a wonderful posting Gayle and I like your
    Satsuma tea cup and saucer, you really should
    use it though as it is not just a thing of beauty but
    a useful and beautiful piece of porcelain 🙂 🙂

    Have a lovely evening my great friend 🙂

    Andro xxx


  15. What a beautiful cup! You must have loved finding the geisha on the bottom. You’ve reminded me of a tea set our younger daughter gave me as a Christmas present. It’s a set from Germany. I think I’ll have to take some pictures and post them. I also have some lovely Imari cups and plates from Japan. Such beauty!


    • Thank you…I appreciate your wonderful comment. Yes, the woman in the bottom of the cup was a delightful surprise. Would love to see your other tea items too…it’s so fun to collect them isn’t it.


  16. Here’s the link to the post showing the Weimar tea set from Germany: I’ll have to do the Imari cups soon. BTW, you do beautiful haiku. I’ve been working on some haiku and actually did a Friday Fictioneers piece all in haiku this week ( Friday Fictioneers is doing a story, poem or some other writing form on a photo prompt, trying to stay right around 100 words. Good writing practice!


  17. Clicked right over and saw your wonderful German tea set…a lovely gift for you.

    Well, thanks for the generous compliment regarding my haiku…I appreciate that. I do love those short Japanese forms…it’s a real challenge to do them justice.

    Friday Fictioneers sounds like something I would be interested in…and, yes, good writing practice for sure. I’ve entered in with some other short writings previously…there’s G-Man’s, Flash Friday 55…tell a story in exactly 55 words. Lots of fun. And there was an offering each week with “Monkey Man” where you would write a story in 160 characters…he has retired though.

    Thanks for sharing.


  18. I remember this poem so well from when you first posted it, Gayle. I have been looking for one of these tea cups ever since. My anitque shop browsing hasn’t brought any to me.
    I enjoyed this poem even more now that I have a greater understanding of your peoms and writing.
    namaste …
    Izzy xoxo


    • Oh, goodness, Izzy…I hope you find one some day…they are so pretty. I’ve come across a bit of Satsuma when I look in antique shops…one piece I gifted to the sister who gave me my cup. I’m glad this was more meaningful for you the second time around…nice for you to say.



  19. What absolutely stunning pieces!!! I agree with Androgoth, though….with something so beautiful, why not use it (at least once)? Not only can you appreciate its beauty by looking at it, but also the form and function by tasting the tea inside it. 🙂


    • Thanks, Corina! I think you’re right. I can’t imagine who may have used that cup when it was made over 100 years ago…gets me wondering..


  20. What beautiful pottery, and your poem captures its intricacy and ritual; you paint a detailed picture with your visual use of words.



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