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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Name-CRT: Japanese
Title: Drum-Shaped Pillow
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1767
Creation End Date: 1833
Creation Date: Edo period, late 18th-early 19th century
Creation Place: Japan, Saga Prefecture
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Porcelain painted with overglaze enamels and gold (Arita ware, Imari style)
Dimensions: W. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm); D. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.233
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The rapid development and diversification of the Japanese porcelain industry in the 17th century is one of the most fascinating episodes in the history of ceramics. During this period, the city of Arita, located in the Saga Prefecture in Hizen Province on the southern island of Kyushu, became the largest and most important center for the production of porcelain in the world. Several factors contributed to this development. One was the contribution of the many technically advanced potters brought to Japanfrom Korea during the late 16th-century Japanese invasions of that country. Another was the prohibitive effects of the civil disarray in 17th-century China on its ceramic industry, which led Europeans and other customers in search of highly prized porcelains to turn to Japan.
Many questions remain regarding the development of porcelain in Japan. Traditionally, the discovery of the type of clay needed to produce porcelains has been credited to a potter named Ri Sampei, who was one of the Korean artisansbrought to Japan. Production of porcelains began around 1610 in the Karatsu stoneware kilns located just to the north of Arita. Karatsu wares also reflected the influence of other Korean advances, such as sophisticated types of kilns and kick wheels for throwing.
The first Japanese porcelains were painted with underglaze cobalt blue, known as "old blue-and-white" ware (ko-sumetsuke). But by about 1640, overglaze enamels had been added to the palette. It is generally accepted that overglaze enamels were introduced to Kyushu from Kyoto rather than from China. One reason for this assumption is the use of a vibrant overglaze blue in both Kyoto ware and Japanese porcelains, a color not found in Chinese ceramics of that period.
Painted with dark overglaze enamels, this ceramic pillow in the shape of a drum provides an example of a type of Japanese porcelain intended primarily for domestic consumption. The use of ceramic pillows has a long history in East Asia. This example is decorated with white cherry blossoms in reserve against a red background, and gold has been used to highlight the chrysanthemum borders. The structured composition dates it to the late 18th or early 19th century. At this time such pillows were commonly used to help preserve the elaborate hairstyles that were so fashionable.
The majority of Japanese porcelains are classified as Arita wares, based on the location of their production. Arita wares are traditionally subdivided into Imari, Kakiemon, and Nabeshima styles (although this system is currently under revision). This pillow is an example of Imari-style porcelain, distinguished by the dense patterning and the use of dark color. The style is named for the Imari port in Kyushu from which these porcelains were typically shipped.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, , p. 103.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.233
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, Asia Society
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