Essays and Articles

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