Essays and Articles

Foundation: Japanese Pottery and Ceramics

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Japan has an ancient history the production of ceramics and pottery, which are used both for domestic use and in traditional Japanese cultural practices such as tea ceremony, ikebana flower arranging and food service.

Japan has more than 50 pottery towns nationwide and each one has its own cultural background and history, meaning that they have cultivated a unique style of ceramic production. Japanese potters use a variety of glazes with highly honed techniques which result in a plethora of stunning outcomes including glossy finishes through to rough surfaces, bright colours and blue and white pottery designs to monochrome finishes.

There is truly something for everyone in the world of Japanese pottery. For more examples of the diverse nature of Japanese ceramics, visit our tableware, vases + vessels , bowls + plates and pottery sections of the website.

 

KUTANI pottery plate BIZEN pottery vase

                 KUTANI pottery plate                                                 BIZEN pottery vase

 

Seto

Seto ware, one of the six old kilns of Japan refers to pottery items made in and around the village of Seto in Aichi prefecture. An important region for ceramics production, Japanese studio pottery made in Seto dates back to the 13th century, with early pieces showing clear inspiration in decoration from Chinese Song dynasty ceramics and Chinese pottery, and are typically glazed in tones of green, yellow and brown.

One of the most stylistically diverse of the old kilns, early Seto ware pieces are high fired ceramics, usually of relatively heavy construction, often displaying incised decoration in the form of floral scrolls and plant motifs.

Though dribbled glazing in greenish yellow colours is characteristic of early pieces, the iron rich ‘oil spot’ glaze known as Tenmoku also became a specialty of the region from around the end of the Kamakura period.

Originally a favourite finish in glazed tea wares imported from China for use by the highest classes of Japanese aristocracy, Tenmoku pieces created in Seto became increasingly popular as the custom of tea drinking spread throughout the classes of society, cementing a lasting reputation for the area of Seto for its production of high quality tea ceremony wares.

 


Japanese large mouthed Seto ware jar with incised                                        Chinese 'Yaozhou celadon carved ewer,
designs of peony blooms, Kamakura period, 14th century.                             Northern Song dynasty, 11th-12th century.
Image courtesy of the Tokyo National Museum                                               Image courtesy of Sotheby's New York

 


           Above are two examples of contemporary Seto pottery pieces that are stocked by Kazari + Ziguzagu

 

Shigaraki

Possibly the best known of Japan’s six old kilns, Shigaraki stoneware pottery originated in the middle of the Kamakura period (early 13th century) with purely practical items produced to meet the demands of farmers and merchants, including jars for tea storage known as ‘tsubo’, large plates, bowls and bottles as well as vessels used in indigo production.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, Shigaraki tea wares began to boom in popularity among the aristocratic classes thanks to the influence of tea masters like Murata Juko, who hailed such ceramics as being in the spirit of ‘wabi sabi’. The appreciation of rustic simplicity was more in line with the new form of ritual tea drinking which emphasized humility and intense awareness of one’s surroundings.

The clay body of Shigaraki ceramics is distinguishable by its warm orange tone and lighter coloured grains of feldspar and quartz, responsible for the distinctive rough texture of finished pieces. Glazes tend to be minimal and in earthy colours with classical pieces generally displaying natural ash glazes in tones of greenish yellow, grey and black or brown iron to create a uniform reddish brown.

In the modern day Shigaraki pottery continues to be produced both in the form of utilitarian items for everyday use as well as in one of a kind art pieces that bring a contemporary aesthetic to this ancient medium. Below are just a few examples of Japanese Shigaraki Pottery.

 

 

Bizen

One of Japan’s six ancient kilns, the distinctive stoneware native to the Bizen area of Japan has been created since the Heian period (12th century).

Easily recognizable by its characteristic reddish brown colour, hardness and usual lack of glazing, the appearance of Bizen pottery is entirely dependent on the conditions in which it is fired, with varying placements of the pottery pieces within the kiln creating a rich array of reddish tones and additional introduced materials such as rice straw and resinous woods producing red and purplish brown scorch marks. 

Many of the forms seen in contemporary Bizen ceramics are virtually unchanged since its heyday during the Muromachi, Momoyama and Edo periods.



Oribe

Oribe ware is a historically important Japanese pottery variety that emerged during the late Momoyama and early Edo periods in Tajimi, in modern day Gifu prefecture. 

Developed under and named after the Daimyo (feudal lord) in control of the Tajimi area, Furuta Oribe, (1544-1615) himself a student of the noted tea master Sen no Rikyu, Oribe pottery quickly became a firm favourite among tea ceremony practitioners, who valued its earthy, sculptural aesthetic. 

It is easily identifiable by its typically vibrant green or black glazed areas set against contrasting pale white, cream or pinkish hued grounds, often further decorated with black or brown underglaze designs. Underglaze painting is usually based around themes of nature or geometric patterns and often incorporates classical Japanese art motifs such as the famous Uji bridge, karakusa scrollwork or Buddhist wheels.

As a general rule, most Oribe wares are produced in irregular forms and uneven proportions, with many of the patterns and underglaze designs created centuries ago still in regular use today.

Now produced all over Japan, contemporary oribe ceramics are made to cater to a wide range of tastes and budgets. From dishes, bowls and plates for everyday use to traditional tea wares and sculptural works by famous artists, few other Japanese ceramic types are as varied, versatile and timelessly appealing as Oribe piece.

 

Early 17th century Oribe ware bowl, Momoyama period, sold at Christie's



Early 17th century black Oribe tea bowl, Momoyama period, Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

Rare Japanese Oribe pottery sweets dish, available at Kazari + Ziguzagu

 

 

Japanese black glazed Oribe mizusashi, available at Kazari + Ziguzagu

 

Echizen

Originating in Fukui prefecture and thought to have first been made from the end of the Heian era, Echizen pottery is an extremely hard variety of Japanese stoneware fired at high temperatures and is counted as one of the ‘six old kilns’ of Japan.

Echizen ceramics were commonly made using clays in a variety of base tones, ranging from greys and yellowish browns up to darker reddish colours, with a large degree of the final appearance being dependent on the temperature and conditions in which pieces were fired.

Historically known for being both strong and watertight without the need for glazes, large jars and pots for water and grain storage known as ‘tsubo’ were in particularly high demand during the Momoyama and Edo periods. Surviving examples tend to display thick and heavy walls with distinctly broad shoulders and bulging mid sections, sometimes with horizontal or diagonal runs of glazes in yellow or white tones.

Both contemporary and classically styled examples are still made today using techniques that are virtually unchanged from the 16th century and are still held in high regard among tea ceremony practitioners.

Echizen Tsubo, Late Edo period Japan

 

Tokoname

Tokoname, between the Heian and Muromachi periods, was one of the most concentrated areas for pottery production in all of Japan, with more than 1000 kilns known to have existed.

Widely distributed through trade to neighboring prefectures, Tokoname ceramics of various forms were already in daily use throughout Japan by the 13th century.

Historical pieces vary in colour from reddish browns to dark and pale greys depending on firing conditions and exact clay types, with the kilns of Tokoname producing a wide range of ceramics for everyday life.

Complex decoration is for the most part minimal, however incised motifs of animals, plants or maker’s marks are occasionally seen, with the earliest pieces occasionally displaying patterns of grasses and lotus leaves.

Tokoname pottery production declined during the Momoyama period, gradually reducing further until the late Edo period when a resurgence of interest was sparked, leading to a massive revival of the local ceramics industry.

Classical pieces continued to be produced alongside newer designs catering to these ‘modern’ aesthetics and tastes with fine terracotta wares known as 'Shudei', being of particular interest among tea ceremony practitioners and enthusiasts alike.

This rediscovery of Tokoname stoneware and ceramics allowed the opening of new kilns and the sharing of new and old techniques between potters throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries. This led to countless exciting new forms that have endured and evolved right up to the modern day.

 

Satsuma

Satsuma pottery (Satsuma yaki) is a major variety of Japanese pottery originally produced in Satsuma province in (now modern day western Kagoshima prefecture in Kyushu) during the early Edo period (1608-1868).

Stylistically and historically, pieces can be divided into two main categories; early ceramics dating to the first half of the 17th century that were purely functional and usually devoid of decoration, and later, heavily decorated 19th century export pieces designed to appeal toto Western aesthetics of the time.

The earliest pieces were made from iron rich clay glazed in dark tones and were intended first and foremost for everyday use.

Satsuma ware tea caddy, Edo period circa 17th century

 

As a rule they tend to be simple utilitarian wares including bowls, dishes and storage pots, although a number of high quality examples dating from the latter half of the 17th century survived that were created for tea ceremony use.

An esoteric field of study in their own right, old Satsuma examples are extremely uncommon and are highly sought after by collectors and museums today. The few pieces that appear on the market routinely achieve high prices due to their rarity. Most commonly seen today are later Satsuma wares created during the second half of the 19th century during the late Edo and Meiji periods.

Utilising a rich colour palette of deep red, blue, green, yellow and orange, Satsuma pieces are usually set against a beige toned crackle glazed background. These pieces are well known for their extensive gilding and sometimes extremely finely painted motifs.

 

Satsuma pottery tea bowl, Edo period, sold at Christie's

 

Designed to be highly decorative in nature and usually made in the form of vases, sculpture , tea and coffee sets and platters for display, 19th century Satsuma ceramics were intended to serve as both functional items and as flamboyant art objects within the homes of their owners.

Quality varies widely in later pieces, ranging from the finest one-off examples displaying some of the most delicate painting and gilding ever seen in Japanese ceramic design, all the way down to cheap mass produced wares utilizing basic motifs and patterns deliberately created to appeal to the Western tourist trade.

 

 

Satsuma pottery tea caddy with gilt and red design, available at Kazari

Underappreciated throughout much of the 20th century, Satsuma ceramics now represent a remarkably good opportunity for the modern day collector, with fine examples still being readily available at very reasonable prices compared to other classical Japanese ceramic varieties.

 

Tamba

Pottery originating in Tamba,  northwest of Kyoto (modern day Tachikui) dates to the Heian period during the twelfth century. Possibly the most wholly ‘Japanese’ of the classical kilns, the earliest Tamba ceramics displayed virtually no influence from Korean or Chinese ceramics in their forms and glazes.

Early examples display iron rich, coarse clays, which on firing would change to colours ranging from dark reds through to cool greyish blue tones depending on the makeup of the clay used and firing conditions in the kiln. Being set somewhat apart from the other old kilns, Tamba pottery did not develop along the same lines of innovation as its contemporaries, many of its best known surviving examples are of a purely utilitarian nature.

Although dishes, bowls, sake bottles and other ceramics for daily use have been found dating from Tamba’s earlier periods, large storage jars tend to be its best-known survivors. Typically formed with heavy walls, a generously bulging profile and a short neck leading to a slightly irregular mouth, these jars remained virtually unchanged in form for over 400 years.

While antique pieces remain highly collectible, having gained a dedicated following among ceramics connoisseurs and tea ceremony practitioners, Tamba pottery production has continued through to the 21st century, with contemporary artisans combining the highly variegated surface colours and textures of classical pieces with modern day aesthetics .

 

Contemporary Tamba pottery vase

 

Shino

Shino ware is a glazed Japanese pottery variety originally produced in Mino province, present day Gifu prefecture. In its original form, it emerged during the Momoyama period in the late 16th century and continued to be produced into the early Edo period before largely falling out of use in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

 

Contemporary Japanese Shino pottery studio vase by Tsukamoto Haruhiko (b. 1959)

Easily identifiable by their thick translucent whitish glazes, pitted or crackled surface textures and often irregular or deliberately misshapen forms, Shino ware ceramics quickly became a firm favourite among  tea ceremony  enthusiasts, with many of the earliest examples of Shino pottery consisting of tea bowls, mizusashi (water pot), kogo  (incense container) and various other implements related to tea or incense appreciation.

Aside from the most commonly seen whitish glazed Shino, there is also a reddish toned variety and a grey type, produced by coating the piece in a watery iron slip before covering it with a feldspar glaze.

 

Set of five Japanese 'Shino' pottery plates

 

Despite its initial popularity, the vogue for early Shino wares waned, ultimately being replaced by similarly glazed and often slightly more decorative Oribe style ceramics. Fortunately however, its sculptural aesthetic and timeless appeal finally won out, with the style re-emerging in the late 19th and 20th centuries during the MeijiTaisho  and Showa periods.

Today there are many Japanese artists and studios specialising in Shino style ceramics, with their work ranging all the way from small trinkets and affordable utilitarian items to one off sculptural vessels and museum worthy art pieces.


Contemporary Japanese Ceramic Vase by Ichiyo Nakajima

 

As with most other Japanese ceramic varieties, early Shino examples are highly valued by major collectors and museums and often attract prices in the many thousands of dollars. For the savvy collector or ceramics enthusiast however, pieces by contemporary artisans can represent a much more reasonable investment.

Kazari + Ziguzagu stock a large range of Shino pottery pieces, from tableware including Japanese stoneware bowls, antique dish sets, cups and plates to vases for ikebana all the way up to one off artist pieces.

Kazari + Ziguzagu have a diverse range of pottery and ceramics to suit a wide range of interior spaces. From classic blue and white ceramics, antique stoneware for sale, a vintage sake bottle for your next dinner party or some antique blue china, there is an array of ceramics at our store and warehouse that is ever changing. Our website is regularly updated with new stock, so keep checking in or contact us via the enquiry form to make a special request.

Loading...

Japanese ceramics - Oribe Pottery

Friday, November 10, 2017

Oribe ware is a historically important Japanese pottery variety that emerged during the late Momoyama and early Edo periods in Tajimi, in modern day Gifu prefecture.

Developed under and named after the Daimyo (feudal lord) in control of the Tajimi area, Furuta Oribe, (1544-1615) himself a student of the noted tea master Sen no Rikyu, Oribe pottery quickly became a firm favourite among tea ceremony practitioners, who valued its earthy, sculptural aesthetic.

It is easily identifiable by its typically vibrant green or black glazed areas set against contrasting pale white, cream or pinkish hued grounds, often further decorated with black or brown underglaze designs.


Under-glaze painting is usually based around themes of nature or geometric patterns and oftentimes incorporates classical Japanese art motifs such as the famous Uji brige, karakusa scrollwork or Buddhist wheels.

As a general rule, most Oribe wares are produced in irregular forms and uneven proportions, with many of the patterns and underglaze designs created centuries ago still in regular use today.

Now produced all over Japan, contemporary oribe ceramics are made to cater to a wide range of tastes and budgets; from dishes, bowls and plates for everyday use to traditional tea and wares and sculptural works by famous artists, few other Japanese ceramic types are as varied, versatile and timelessly appealing as Oribe piece.

 

 

Early 17th century Oribe ware bowl, Momoyama period, sold at Christies

 

 

Early 17th century black Oribe tea bowl, Momoyama period, Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Rare Japanese Oribe pottery sweets dish, available at Kazari + Ziguzagu

 

Japanese black glazed Oribe mizusashi, available at Kazari + Ziguzagu



Loading...

Japanese ceramics - Shino pottery

Monday, August 28, 2017

Shino ware is a glazed Japanese pottery variety originally produced in Mino province, present day Gifu prefecture. In its original form, it emerged during the Momoyama period in the late 16th century and continued to be produced into the early Edo period before largely falling out of use in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. 

Contemporary Japanese Shino pottery studio vase by Tsukamoto Haruhiko (b. 1959)

 


Easily identifiable by their thick translucent whitish glazes, pitted or crackled surface textures and oftentimes irregular or deliberately misshapen forms, Shino ware ceramics quickly became a firm favourite among tea ceremony enthusiasts, with many of the earliest examples of Shino pottery consisting of tea bowls, mizusashi (water pot), kogo (incense container) and various other implements related to tea or incense appreciation.

Left: Japanese Shino pottery tea bowl                                      Right: Japanese Shino pottery tea bowl in a cone shape                                                          

Aside from the most commonly seen whitish glazed Shino, there is also a reddish toned variety and a grey type, produced by coating the piece in a watery iron slip before covering it with a feldspar glaze.

 


 

 

Set of five Japanese 'Shino' pottery plates

 

Despite its initial popularity, the vogue for early Shino wares waned, ultimately being replaced by similarly glazed and often slightly more decorative Oribe style ceramics.
Fortunately however, its sculptural aesthetic and timeless appeal finally won out, with the style re-emerging in the late 19th and 20th centuries during the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods.

Today there are many Japanese artists and studios specialising in Shino style ceramics, with their output ranging all the way from small trinkets and affordable utilitarian items up to one off sculptural vessels and museum worthy art pieces.


As with most other Japanese ceramic varieties, early Shino examples are highly valued by major collectors and museums and often attract prices in the many thousands of dollars.
For the savvy collector or ceramics enthusiast however, pieces by contemporary artisans can represent a much more reasonable investment.

Kazari + Ziguzagu stocks a large range of Shino pottery pieces, from tableware including bowls, dishes, cups and plates to vases for ikebana all the way up to one off artist pieces.

 

Loading...

Japanese ceramics - Satsuma

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Satsuma pottery (Satsuma yaki) is a major variety of Japanese pottery originally produced in Satsuma province in (now modern day western Kagoshima prefecture in Kyushu) during the early Edo period (1608-1868).

Stylistically and historically, pieces can be divided into two main categories; early ceramics dating to the first half of the 17th century that were purely functional and usually devoid of decoration, and later, heavily decorated 19th century export pieces designed to appeal to appeal to Western aesthetics of the time.

The earliest pieces were made from iron rich clay glazed in dark tones and were intended first and foremost for everyday use.


Satsuma ware tea caddy, Edo period circa 17th century

As a rule they tend to be simple utilitarian wares including bowls, dishes and storage pots, although a number of high quality examples dating from the latter half of the 17th century survive that were created for tea ceremony use.

An esoteric field of study in their own right, old Satsuma examples are extremely uncommon and are highly sought after by collectors and museums today with the few pieces that appear on the market routinely achieving high prices due to their rarity.

Most commonly seen today are later Satsuma wares created during the latter half of the 19th century during the late Edo and Meiji periods.

Utilising a rich colour palette of deep red, blue, green, yellow and orange; usually set against a beige toned crackle glazed ground these pieces are well known for their extensive gilding and oftentimes extremely finely painted motifs.

Satsuma pottery tea bowl, Edo period, sold at Christie's

Designed to be highly decorative in nature and usually made in the form of vases, sculpture, tea and coffee sets and platters for display, 19th century Satsuma ceramics were intended to serve as both functional items and as flamboyant art objects within the homes of their owners.

Quality varies widely in later pieces, ranging from the finest one-off examples displaying some of the most delicate painting and gilding ever seen in Japanese ceramic design all the way down to cheaply made mass produced wares utilizing basic motifs and patterns deliberately created to appeal to the Western tourist trade.

Satsuma pottery tea caddy with gilt and red design, available at Kazari

Under appreciated throughout much of the 20th century, Satsuma ceramics now represent a remarkably good opportunity for the modern day collector, with fine examples still being readily available at very reasonable prices compared to other classical Japanese ceramic varieties.

 

 



Loading...

Nabeshima Porcelain

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Originally produced in the middle of the 17th century in the area of Okawachiyama, near Arita, Nabeshima porcelain was named for the Nabeshima clan who financed and oversaw its production for their own use and profit, and would regularly gift exceptional pieces to members of the elite aristocracy in a bid to gain favour with their fellow feudal lords and the ruling Shogunate of the time.

Set of 5 Japanese Nabeshima plates, 20th century

Catering to the requirements and aesthetic tastes of Japan’s elite classes, Nabeshima porcelain artisans were given special favour over other Arita ceramicists and were able to make use of the highest quality clay and premium pigments not generally available to their mainstream competitors.

In a departure from the largely standardised Chinese influenced designs seen in most other early Arita porcelain wares, the decoration on Nabeshima pieces drew on uniquely Japanese influences, with layout and pattern taking many cues from classical motifs used in textile design.

Contemporary Japanese Nabeshima vase

The studios that produced these designs were strictly controlled by the Nabeshima clan and were forbidden from reproducing their work on pieces destined for use by the general population.

As with Kakiemon wares, it is generally agreed upon that true Nabeshima porcelain does not utilize gilding in its decoration, and typically makes use of a comparatively restricted palette consisting of underglaze blue to outline the designs, with red, green and yellow overglaze enamels being reserved for the details. Although well known for their polychrome designs, Nabeshima porcelain wares were also painted in a monochromatic blue and white variation.

Production of mainline Nabeshima porcelain continued under the watchful eye of the Nabeshima clan until the Meiji period in the late 19th century, when political reforms put an end to the feudal system that had dominated Japan to that point.

Now highly valued and collectable, original 17th, 18th century and even 19th century Nabeshima pieces often attract eye watering sums at auction, due to their rarity, quality and significance within Japan’s art and design traditions.

 

 

Porcelain dish, Okawachi, Nabeshima ware, Edo period 18th century (Christie's)

 

 

One can still find modern day descendants and imitators of the original artisans creating pieces in the traditional style elsewhere in Japan to the present day.

Kazari stocks a small range of contemporary and 20th century Nabeshima style porcelain wares, with an emphasis placed on quality and originality of design.




Loading...

Antique Furniture Restoration Process

Friday, June 09, 2017

When working with unrestored furniture of age there are always a multitude of 'quirks' typically encountered that have arisen through general use over the course of their considerably long life.
While many of these unique markings and textures combine to give them their charm and patina, sometimes other more drastic tales are told – shrinking, bowing and splitting of wood over time, past visitations from wood eating insects, ink spills, and even previous ‘do-it-yourself’ attempts and crude repairs.

With these hurdles as a given, and within the more-or-less standardized forms of traditional oriental furniture construction, we are able to remedy most blemishes with a variety of techniques that have been developed and refined over the past forty years of Kazari's dealings in Japanese and Chinese antiques.

In short, our processes often include the following

- Cleaning - The careful removal of old finishes that have become soiled by a variety of factors including sun discoloration, damp storage in their original settings, or centuries of over exposure to smoke and soot. Other times we simply clean of the dirt from the originally unfinished timber. If we don’t need to do this we may also leave them as they are. Sometimes just a wax can be all it takes to breathe life back into a piece, allowing the old patina and history to shine through once more.

- Repolishing – we apply organic finishes that rehydrate and revive the timber's warm aged tones. Often several layers are applied and ‘cut back’ between coats to level any bumps and build-ups of the finish materials.

- General restoration- During this stage and before the final finish coat, we also fill any holes present, mend cracks, insert new strips of wood into overly shrunken fissures, and damaged sections and corners may be also replaced with matching and appropriately aged timbers drawn from our extensive restoration stockpile.

- Metal fitting replacement - Handles, lockplates, drawer-pulls, and hinges are checked and replaced where necessary, drawing from a vast assorted collection of spare parts acquired over many years by Kazari.

- Waxing - Lastly the pieces are waxed and buffed – leveling out tones, giving a uniform sheen, and giving supplementary moisture and waterproofing to the timbers for the next few decades of their lives.

A typical late Taisho or early Showa period chest of drawers in its unrestored state and looking a little worse for wear after almost 100 years of daily use...


 

 

 

Crude original repair on the drawer corner of the unrestored chest, this will be removed and patched properly to blend in with the surrounding area


 


Ouch….An even rougher past repair to one of the other drawer fronts…yet another of the ‘quirks’ typically encountered during the restoration process

 

 

The damaged drawer corner from the first image, now neatly patched using paulownia wood of a similar age to the surrounding wood - notice the difference in colour between the newly sanded patch and the surrounding age and soot darkened area still to be cleaned


 

 

 

In the process of repolishing to rehydrate the wood and to level out and enrich the colours of the aged surfaces


 

 

 

Finished patched drawer corner, now toned to match the rest of the cleaned and polished drawer front


 

 

 

The restored piece, cleaned, repaired, repolished and waxed and ready to last another 100 years


 


Loading...

Japanese Ceramics - Kutani

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Named after its original production center, the village of Kutani in Southern Ishikawa prefecture, Kutani wares can be traced back to the early Edo period in the mid 17th century.

Known as Ko Kutani, these early porcelain pieces were decorated with a limited five colour palette of blue, green, yellow, purple and red and often feature bold designs based on animal and plant motifs and other traditional themes.

Image: Ohira bowl, C17th Kutani, Collection of Kutaniyaki Art Museum, Ishikawa Prefecture

 

For reasons unknown, production of Ko Kutani wares suddenly ceased around the year 1730. The cause of this closure is widely debated, with most experts placing blame on financial difficulties or lack of supply of necessary pigments and materials.

The second wave of Kutani porcelain began in the early 19th century at the Kasugayama kiln in Kanazawa and is commonly known as Saiko Kutani.
Combining techniques already used in earlier Ko-Kutani examples with methods from other Japanese porcelain kilns, wares from this period are known for their detailed and lavish designs featuring predominately red enamels and gilt decoration.


Left: Rare and unusual Japanese Kutani porcelain incense burner    Right: Large antique Japanese Kutani porcelain charger

 

Leading on from original Saiko Kutani pieces, ‘modern’ Kutani first appeared in the early Meiji period, during the 1860’s, when Japanese artisans began to fuse traditional porcelain making and painting techniques with western methods, allowing for a much larger range of colours and richer, more lustrous gilding.

 


Left: Japanese Kutani pottery lion                                       Right: Vintage Japanese Kutani studio vase with design of herons


Kutani style porcelain wares are still made today, using both traditional and modern techniques and catering to all tastes, with decorative styles ranging from strictly classical traditional motifs to starkly contemporary, abstract designs.


Left: Contemporary Japanese polychrome Kutani sake set                      Right: Set of 5 Contemporary Japanese Kutani plates


Kazari sells a large range of both contemporary and traditional Kutani porcelain wares, from contemporary teacups, plates and dishes (link to tableware) appropriate for every day use to sculptural figures and rare collectable objects.

 



Loading...

Japanese Ceramics - Kakiemon

Monday, April 10, 2017

Kakiemon is a style of Arita porcelain originally created and popularized by Sakaida Kakiemon I during early Edo period in the mid 17th century. Characterized by its use of brightly coloured enamels over a milky white toned base known as Nigoshide, Kakiemon porcelain artists were known for the quality of their brushwork and their asymmetric but balanced design aesthetic.

Naturalistic designs representing spring and autumn show an obvious influence from the dominant Kano, Tosa, and Shijo painting schools, while the Rimpa school’s often sparse scenes of nature also influenced designs, layouts and motifs, as porcelain artists attempted to appeal to the flamboyant tastes of their local patrons as well as demand from European markets.

The Kakiemon style is best known for its combinations of overglaze colours and minimal areas of underglaze painting.
Utilising a common colour palette of soft red, yellow, blue and turquoise green, Kakiemon pieces can be easily differentiated from the more common Imari style by their lack of gilding and trademark use of large areas of empty white space, lending an elegant aesthetic to their wares.

Traditional motif groupings often include the sho-chi-kubai (pine, plum, and bamboo, the three lucky plants of winter), peony and shishi lions (the queen of flowers and king of beasts), bamboo and tigers, quail and flowering grasses, waves and plovers, karako (Chinese children) and autumnal grasses or butterflies along with a range of less common naturalistic designs.

As with many other classical craft skills, the closely guarded secrets of the Kakiemon kiln gradually died out and faded into obscurity until the latter half of the 20th century, when a descendant of the original Kakiemon lineage undertook years of study to rediscover his ancestor’s techniques, combining his own technical knowledge with the sparse archive material preserved in the family’s documents.

Today the Kakiemon kiln is once more operating and producing high quality wares to meet the demands of a new market.
Authentic 17th century examples of Kakiemon porcelain can easily fetch tens of thousands of dollars at auction around the world, with dedicated collectors fiercely outbidding one another for rare examples and pieces with unusual designs.

Kazari stocks a range of 20th century Kakiemon wares which can easily look just as timeless and at home in modern settings as their forebears did in the grand residences of centuries past.


Above left: contemporary lidded bowl with overglaze design of acorns by Sakaida Kakiemon XV
Image sourced from The British Museum
Above right: 17th century Kakiemon porcelain bowl
Image sourced from the Tokyo National Museum

 


Above: Japanese Kakiemon porcelain vase, mid 20th century available at Kazari + Ziguzagu



Above: Contemporary Japanese Kakiemon porcelain plates available at Kazari + Ziguzagu



Loading...

Japanese Porcelain - Imari

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Perhaps the best known of all Japanese ceramic categories, 'Imari' porcelain was originally named for the sea port of Imari, where porcelain produced in and around the area of Arita was exported to the rest of Japan and ultimately the west from the middle of the 17th century through to the middle of the 18th century before Japan officially closed its borders to outsiders.

During the 19th century when Japan's borders reopened to foreigners, porcelain workshops experienced an immediate boom in demand from a new generation of Western tourists eager to bring a touch of Japanese design back to their homelands.

Both blue and white and polychrome Imari style porcelain has been in constant demand ever since, with various kilns specializing in everything from one-off decorative pieces made for the likes of Japan's own imperial family all the way through to large scale porcelain factories producing purely utilitarian items such as chopstick rests and noodle bowls.

Generally decorated utilizing a limited palette of three colours, underglaze blue, a brick red enamel and applied gilding, historical examples of polychrome Imari porcelain tend to be highly decorative and usually feature approximately symmetrical balanced designs and classical motifs such as flowers or animals.

Kazari stocks a large range of both blue and white and polychrome Imari porcelain wares ranging in date from the late 17th century through to later 20th century examples.


Above: late 18th century imari porcelain dishes



Above: late 18th century polychrome porcelain dishes


Above: early 20th century polychrome Imari charger

Loading...

Japanese Porcelain Origin

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Porcelain production began in Japan during the early 17th century, several hundred years after it had first been made in China and Korea. Following two Japanese invasions of Korea during the 1590's led by the fuedal samurai lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Japan saw an influx of Korean immigration with many artisans and craftspeople moving throughout the country in order to find work and to learn new techniques and to teach their skills to Japanese potters.

In 1616, Kaolin, the clay from which porcelain is made was found in the area surrounding the town of Arita; porcelain production quickly sprang up in the surounding area and thus Japanese porcelain was born. Originally heavily influenced by Korean artisans who had already gained advanced technical skills in their homeland, the earliest porcelain pieces made in Japan were blue and white utilitarian items such as cups and plates, oftentimes decorated with naturalistic scenes based on classical Korean themes.

Over the next 50 years Japan's porcelain production continued to grow with wares produced in Arita and its surrounding areas being traded throughout the country via the sea port of Imari, a name by which these porcelain wares would become generically known.

Social unrest and political turmoil in China during the mid 17th century drastically reduced its domestic and export porcelain production forcing the powerful Dutch East India Trade Company "Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie" (VOC) to find a new porcelain producer for their European market. Coinciding with the decline in Chinese porcelain production and aided by Chinese master potters and porcelain painters working Japan, more elaborate motifs and designs rendered in polychrome colours and gold leaf began to feature prominently in the wares made by Japanese kilns.
The increasing technical skills of Japan's porcelain makers had not escaped the eye of the VOC who placed their first large order for Japanese 'Imari' porcelain wares in 1656.

Soon after the arrival of this first order of Japanese 'Imari' porcelain in Europe, the Dutch East India Company would go on to place increasingly large orders over the following years in order to meet the surging demands of a European high society obsessed with a newly created craze for 'Japonism'.

The 18th century however would spell the beginning of the end for many porcelain centers in Japan as China once more began to increase its porcelain production, relying on an already highly trained and skilled network of potters and ceramic artisans to offer designs appealing to European tastes at competitive prices to those made in Japan.

Japanese porcelain outputs dwindled in the latter half of the 18th century before ultimately being revived once more by an influx of tourist interest after the country lifted its self imposed isolationist policy in the late 19th century.


Loading...