Posted on 3rd Aug 2017
Old Imari is quite probably the most famous Japanese ceramic product in the world. China, the dominant exporter of porcelain, fell into internal disturbances in 1644 and it became hard to obtain Chinese products. The west requested Japan to step up production of porcelain instead of China because Europe did not have the techniques to make porcelain at that time. Thus substantial amounts of Japanese porcelain ware were made in the town of Arita and exported to Europe from the port of Imari by the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) from the late 17th to early 18th century in order to meet demand in the west. Thus Arita porcelain is also often known as Imari. Arita ware was the first porcelain product in Japanese history, and strongly influenced European ceramics.
Kakiemon ware is a kind of Arita ware. Sakaida Kakiemon (1596-1666) was the founder of the famous Kakiemon kiln. His work featured very well-shaped porcelain with colorful painting, a well-balanced margin in a beautiful ivory white glaze, and Kuchisabi, a printed iron glaze on the top of the rim. His porcelain strongly influenced European ceramic companies such as Meissen, Herend and Royal Crown Derby among the others. In particular their plates and cups & saucers were influenced by Japanese porcelain at the time. Today, the 14th successor to the Sakaida Kakiemon kiln continues the excellent work.
Meissen Kakiemon cup & saucer and Royal Crown Derby Old Imari plate
It is very difficult to distinguish the age of porcelain products. Experts and amateurs alike use knowledge about the historical features of Imari ware in different eras to identify genuine antiques and avoid fakes.
Sakaida kakiemon succeeded in making an original white glaze called Nigoshide c. 1650-1670. However his earlier white glaze was not as skilled. He was unable to use cobalt blue under the white glaze because the blue changed to almost black after firing due to the iron content of the glaze being oxidized. He therefore had to paint blue parts of the picture over the white glaze. Thus old Imari with beautiful cobalt blue painting under an ivory white glaze is not eary Imari.
From 1690, the Kinrande style emerged. It became popular and soon took the place of Kakiemon style. Kinrade ware was exported to Europe by the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC). That had cobalt blue paint under the white glaze and colorful paint including gold over the glaze. Around the time a new color, yellowish green was developed. Kinrande also influenced European ceramics. In the present day, old Imari usually indicates Kinrande ware in Europe. It is the origin of the famous Royal Crown Derby old Imari series.
This is mixed style between Some-tsuke style and Nishiki-de style. Some-tsuke style had just cobalt blue paint under the white glaze. Nisiki-de style had red, green, yellow, purple, blue paint over the white glaze.
Some-Nishiki had cobalt blue paint under the white glaze and colorful paint over the glaze. It is looks like Kinran-de however it is less flashy than Kinran-de due to hardly gold glaze. Some time they were called Jo-de (excellent porcelain) as tributes for the ruler.
Saya (sagger) is a box made of clay to protect the porcelain in the kiln. Using this tool, a potter could make a well shaped product. Saya were around 30cm across at most. Therefore many early well-shaped Imari products were about 20cm across. The potter could not use the Saya when they made a bigger plate. Therefore perfectly shaped imari over 30cm are not so old.
Many Imari ware have arabesque designs. Early arabesques were drawn delicately. However overtime, the style became rougher. In the mid Edo era, the pattern resembled octopus legs It is called Tako-Karakusa . In the late Edo era, the pattern, called Shida-Karakusa, became almost like ferns.
Tako-Krasakusa and Shida Karakusa
Nomally reproductions have a signature like that on the picture on the top in order to distinguish antiques from reproductions. The other pictures are the signatures of antiques. They are many types of signatures, these are just five examples.
The mark is called 'Uzufuku' means fortune. Usually, it is in Kakiemon ware in antique.
It is Chinese name of an era. It is most populer antique imari ware's back sign. Many Japanese admired Chaina at the time.
Usually having this mark, it is product in the Meiji period (1868-1912).
Fuki-Choshun means happy. Fuki indicates peony and Choshun indicates rose.
This is mark of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie. Imari for export have this mark usually.
In the late edo period, enamel coating technique was imported from China. Painting , gradation and overglaze technique in particular, became more skilled. If you see 'Uguisu-iro (olive green)', lower left side of the picture, on your imari plate, it was made after late 18c because no one was able to make 'uguisu' color painting without enamel coating tequnique at that time.
In 609, The Asuka dynasty of Japan sent an envoy, Ono no Imoko, to the Sui Dynasty of China (589-618). The envoy brought back ceramics, calligraphy, and Buddhism and introduced Chinese advanced knowledge to Japan when they returned. The Japanese admired Chinese culture and were deeply affected by it. Diplomatic relations continued after the Sui [...]
The head temple of the Rinzai sect’s Daitokuji school of Buddhism, also known as Ryuhozan.The temple was established by Zen Buddhist monk Shuho Myocho (Daito Kokushi) in 1315, in the latter years of the Kamakura period. It was severely damaged during the Muromachi period Onin War but was restored by Ikkyu Sojun. In the wake [...]
NatsumeNatsume is a traditional tea caddy made from high-grade wood and decorated with a gold lacquer called Makie. Its name comes from its shape, which is like a jujube (natsume in Japanese). Before the famous artist Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591) used natsume tea caddies in his tea ceremonies, pottery tea caddies were the norm. Natsume [...]
We Japanese every time use Kanji all the time, in spite of it being is Chinese script.Basically, Chinese and Japanese are closely related in origin. However there are differences between them. One day, I met a foreigner who had a big Kanji tattoo on his arm and for me, it was hard to keep a [...]
This is a celadon longquan-ware incense burner, once owned by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. An anecdote about Ishikawa Goemon is relevant to Chidori. He was ordered to assassinate Toyotomi Hideyoshi by Kimura Hitachinosuke, a vassal of Toyotomi Hidetsugu (Hideyoshi’s nephew). One night Ishikawa Goemon finally succeeded in creeping into Hideyoshi’s bed room in Fushimi castle. But Hideyoshi [...]
The "Tsukumo-nasu" is a Chinese-imported ceramic tea container in the nasu ("eggplant" - rounded with a slightly larger bottom) style originally belonging to the third shogun of the Muromachi shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408). It is said that he even carried it to battle with him. After that it was handed down as a favorite possession [...]
An imported Chinese tea container in the katatsuki (having flattened "shoulders" near the neck) style. One of the three most famous katatsuki-style containers. After Murata Juko acquired it, it was passed to Miyoshi Masanaga, Otomo Sorin, Oda Nobunaga, then Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It became a Tokugawa family heirloom following the fall of Osaka Castle.tall: 8.6 cmorigin: [...]
A katatsuki-style tea container imported from China. One of the three most famous katatsuki-style containers. Said to have been one of Yang Guifei's oil jars. Named "hatsuhana (the first flower of the season, or a girl who has just flowered into womanhood)" for its elegance by Ashikaga Yoshimasa. Oda Nobunaga acquired it from the merchants [...]
Said to be the most prominent of tea utensils and of koraimono is the story of the Kizaemon Ido. Early on in the Tokugawa Period, around the Keicho era, a wealthy Osaka merchant by the name of Takeda Kizaemon owned a specially produced tea bowl. Kizaemon spent much of his time on tea ceremony as [...]
All prices are in JPY