Japanese / Bottle / Edo period, c. 1670-1690Japanese
Edo period, c. 1670-1690

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Name-CRT: Japanese
Title: Bottle
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1670
Creation End Date: 1690
Creation Date: Edo period, c. 1670-1690
Creation Place: Japan, Saga Prefecture
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Porcelain painted with overglaze enamels (Arita ware, Kakiemon style)
Dimensions: H. 15 7/8 in. (30.3 cm); D. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.235
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
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.

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--seen here on this wine bottle--in both Kyoto ware and Japanese porcelains, a color not found in Chinese ceramics of that period.

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 currentlyunder revision). This bottle is characteristic of Kakiemon wares--named for the artisan who was once thought to have originated their style of decoration. Kakiemon wares have a lighter palette than Imari or Nabeshima, with pale blues, greens, yellows, and reds predominating. The compositions of the paintings are sparser; the motifsare more isolated and centered on two or more sides of a vessel rather than covering the entire surface; and the quality of the clay and glaze differs. The bodies of most Kakiemon-style wares are a warm, milky white, called nigoshide, and are considered the whitest porcelains produced in East Asia. In addition, Kakiemon wares tend to be more finely potted than other wares, and it seems likely that they were among the most expensive items produced at Arita.

On this wine bottle, two birds perch on a rock before a flowering chrysanthemum. The fantastic rock is probably intended to represent a Taihu rock, found near Lake Tai in China and often used in Chinese garden designs and depicted in Chinese art. The birds are rather awkwardly painted, in the trademark Kakiemon palette, with very full chests, a type that appears frequently in the decoration of Kakiemon-style wares. The disproportionately large flowering plants are also a hallmark of this style.

Only one of the kilns known to have been active around Arita is identified with the production of the nigoshide body of many Kakiemon wares. This kiln, located in the northeast side of the Nangawara Valley, issometimes identified as the Kakiemon kiln. Evidence from its excavation suggests that it did not begin production until c. 1670/80, substantially later than most of the many kilns active in the Arita region. However, a few examples of the nigoshide body have been found at other sites, such as an earlier kiln at Otaru, and it is now thought that this body must also have been developed prior to the founding of the Kakiemon kiln.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 104.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.235
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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