Classic Japanese Porcelain: Imari and Kakiemon

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9784770029522: Classic Japanese Porcelain: Imari and Kakiemon

Japan has long had a thriving tradition of high-quality handcrafted ceramics, including some of the world's most sophisticated porcelains. This highly informative volume written by a leading authority describes the origin and development of the elegant Imari and Kakiemon porcelain wares which were in great demand in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Kaolin was discovered in the Arita area of Kyushu in the early seventeenth century. The first porcelain wares were made by immigrant Korean potters, from whom Japanese potters were quick to learn new potting techniques and cobalt blue underglaze decoration. Local wares were further enriched by enamel overglaze techniques introduced from China not long afterwards. High standards were ensured by the strict administration of the governing Nabeshima fief, and within just a few decades Arita had become the hub of Japan's booming export trade in high-quality porcelain.

Porcelain produced in the Arita kilns came to be known as Imari ware, named after the nearby port from which local wares were shipped. The Kakiemon family gained particular renown for the quality of their color enamels and artistic designs.

With 95 color plates illustrating some rare and classic Imari and Kakiemon pieces from museums and private collections, this volume will appeal to collectors as well as enthusiasts.

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From the Inside Flap:


Ever since kaolin was discovered in the Hizen area of Kyushu in the early seventeenth century, the area has been famous for its beautiful porcelain. A wide range of wares decorated in cobalt blue underglaze or colorful overglaze enamels were shipped to Europe by the Dutch East Indies Company. In this volume, the late Takeshi Nagatake, possibly the most knowledgeable scholar on the subject, discusses the developments in techniques, styles, designs and trade of these exquisite wares.

The hub of porcelain production in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries was the province of Hizen in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands, which is now part of Saga and Nagasaki prefectures. The majority of the porcelain-producing kilns in Hizen province were concentrated in an area known as Arita Sarayama, which was under the control of the Nabeshima fief. The specialized aka-e enamelers were based in Arita Sarayama's eastern Uchiyama sector, while the less specialized workshops were in the Sotoyama sector to the west. Some wares were also produced in the Osotoyama sector in the Saga fief to the southeast of Arita.

Wares from the area generally came to be known as Imari, after the name of the nearby port from which they were shipped. One family of potters and kiln owners gained particular prominence for the beauty and quality of their wares: the Sakaida Kakiemon family. The Kakiemon tradition was started in around 1623 or 1624 by Sakaida Kizaemon, also known as Kakiemon I, and the family continues to produce porcelain today, headed by Kakiemon XIII. The Kakiemon workshops were based in the Nangawara-yama district of Arita Sarayama. This volume reveals the distinction in style between "pure Imari" and "pure Kakiemon," and the influence each had on the other.

About the Author:

Takeshi Nagatake (1916-1987) was born in Ushitsu, Saga Prefecture, the son of the head priest at Jofuku-ji temple. He graduated from Tokyo Technical College and went on to study museology at Tokyo University of Fine Arts. He thereafter returned to Kyushu, where he was professor of art at Saga Women's College and curator of the Arita Ceramic Museum. Among the books he authored are Nihon no aka-e ("Japanese Enameled Ceramics") and Toyo toji no bi ("The Beauty of Oriental Ceramics").

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