The porcelain produced in Imari-Arita under the patronage of Nabeshima
clan, Imari-Arita developed into the largest center for porcelain in Japan
until it was overtaken by Seto in the mid-19 century. An important development
in the history of Japanese porcelain was the adoption of polychrome overglaze
painting from China, which Sakaida Kakiemon First mastered between 1643.
This technique involved the painting of polychrome enamels on the high-fired
glazed pot, which was fired again at a lower temperature. This technique
of overglaze painting, generally referred to as iro-e(colored painting),
was referred to in Arita as aka-e (red painting), which is the origin of
the widespread Western designation for this technique. Because of its similarity
to the sumptuous textiles of the period, the term was also in use. Three
separate styles of aka-e can be distinguished: ko-imari, Kakiemon, and
1)Ko-imari ware was decorated in either three colors (sansai) or five colors
(gosai)-red, blue, green, yellow, and purple. Around 1660, the method of
applying gold and silver was developed, from which Imari kinran (brocade
ware with gold design) evolved. The outlines of aka-e designs were frequently
drawn in cobalt underglaze (some-nishiki).
2)Kakiemon ware was elegant brushwork in predominant iron red (persimmon)
on a milky white background was characteristic, with possible additions
of a light blue, various greens, and yellows, brown, and grayish purple.
The designs, including flowers and birds, and clouds and dragons, were
arranged asymmetrically around areas that were left white. Kakiemon ware
was a model for the European Meissen porcelain of the early 18th century.
3)Iro-Nabeshima ware was produced in feudal kilns for the exclusive use
of the Nabeshima clan and as presentation ware, under the strictest of
security measures and the highest quality standards. It is historically
significant that the first hnyo in Japan. The feature was smooth body and
its slightly greenish, pore-free glaze.
Reasons of popularity
Today, Imari-Arita is very famous all over the world. There were two reasons
for the huge success of Imari- Arita porcelain in the second half of the
17 century: one was the growing demand of the newly affluent urban populace
for porcelain eating and drinking utensils. The other - the decisive reason
was the demand for exports to South-east Asia and Europe. In China, the
production of porcelain came to an almost complete standstill for almost
40 years beginning in 1644, because of the turmoil verging on civil war
during the transition from China. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) which
had exported large quantities of Chinese porcelain, filled this gap with
Japanese ware. After two relatively small shipments in 1650, VOC decided
to order Imari porcelain for export to South Asia and Europe.
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