Oriental Pottery And Porcelain - Japan

The majority of Japanese porcelain to be seen outside that country is ware that was made purposely for export. Little, if any, porcelain at all was made there before the sixteenth century, but by he seventeenth century kilns were in operation near Arita, in the province of Hizen.

Probably the best-known wares, apart from nineteenth-century Satsuma, are the dishes and jars decorated in the so-called 'Imari' style, from the name of the port near Arita whence they were brought to Europe by Dutch traders. This Imari porcelain is painted on a heavy bluish-toned body with a mixture of flowers, scrolls and panels in dark blue, red and gold. At the time it was brought to the West it was highly esteemed, and although it has been copied extensively (Crown Derby is a familiar example) it is less popular today.

The other Japanese ware that had an influence on Western porcelain is that known as 'Kakiemon', after Sakaida Kakiemon, one of a family of Arita potters. Pieces with this style of decoration derived from the Chinese, are sparsely painted in red, green, blue, turquoise and yellow, and they were copied closely at Dresden, Chantilly, Chelsea and elsewhere.

Some of the Japanese potters imitated closely current Chinese wares, and these are easily confused. Many Japanese pieces have small marks under the bases where they stood on clay 'stilts' when being fired. Many, also, show a reddish- orange colour on the unglazed edges. Other porcelains and styles of decoration were current in Japan at the time that these export pieces were being made, but comparatively few specimens have left the country.

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