Detail View: The AMICA Library: Flask in the Shape of a Fan, Kakiemon Ware

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Dates/Places: 
Creator Name-CRT: 
Japan, Edo Period
Flask in the Shape of a Fan, Kakiemon Ware
Title Type: 
Full View
Creation Date: 
17th Century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
porcelain, molded, carved, and glazed with overglaze enamel designs
Classification Term: 
Classification Term: 
Diameter: 19.4cm, Overall: 33.3cm
AMICA Contributor: 
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund
Japan's earliest Jomon vessels and medieval utilitarian jars reflect the culture's fundamental preference for natural earthen colors and gritty robust forms. So it is not surprising that the materials and technology necessary to produce white porcelain became available well after similar developments in Korea and China. Indeed, neither the technical discovery nor the urgency to produce porcelain were indigenous. Instead, the Korean potters in Kyushu, the large southern island of Japan, first identified a source for porcelain clay there, and Dutch tradesmen, who were searching for a source to match the demand for porcelain in their Southeast Asian and European markets, encouraged its production. Chinese porcelain with blue-and-white designs had been exported directly by the Portuguese to Europe by the mid-sixteenth century, thereby establishing a taste there for these colorful ceramics. In the early seventeenth century the Dutch began to rival and then surpass the Portuguese as exporters of Chinese, and then Japanese, porcelain wares. Further, when China's civil wars inhibited the flow of high-quality porcelains, the Japanese industry in the area around Arita in Kyushu stepped in to fill the void. By the mid-seventeenth century the porcelain industry in Arita was producing an improved underglaze blue ware as well as early enameled wares. Toward the last decades of the century, when the rare shape depicted here was produced, various innovative styles of high-quality overglaze decoration had become established at kilns in the Arita region. Among these, Kakiemon was particularly appreciated by both Dutch and Chinese traders, whose primary markets included France and England for this type of ware. It is precisely this Kakiemon style that the porcelain factories at Chantilly, Meissen, and Chelsea emulated in the eighteenth century. Indeed this unusual sake flask came from a collection in England where documented inventories of Japanese porcelains from the late seventeenth century filled the public rooms of aristocratic country houses. Its shape is that of a rigid, rather then folding, bamboo fan with painted panels. The white clay body is of very high quality, and the flower and phoenix design delicately executed. Most notable however are the felicitous compositions, done with the inimitable Japanese sensibility for the economy of space and the acute precision of placement. M.R.C.
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