kakiemon

A Kakiemon Tile 
Edo period (late 17th century) , Japan
Decorated in iron-red, green, yellow, blue and black enamels with Oryu [dragon with wings] in a red-lined circular panel, four corners with botan-karakusa motifs, the reverse with five supports
25.7 x 23.6cm.  Christie’s

Kakiemon elephants

From Japan, Edo period, late 17th century AD

These splendid elephants are made from porcelain with a milky-white glaze called nigoshide, decorated with brilliant overglaze enamels in yellow, red, green and blue — in the so-called ‘Kakiemon’ style.

Many such models of animals, such as dogs, cats, deer, boars and horses, were made as ornaments for European mantelpieces.

Real elephants would not have been seen in Japan at this time, and these unusual examples were likely ordered specially by merchants of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) for export.

Porcelain making began in Japan relatively late, in the 1610s. For several decades around the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644, production in China was curtailed, giving an opportunity for Japanese makers temporarily to take over the trade.

From about 1660 potters near Arita in Kyushu began Kakiemon-style decoration in overglaze coloured enamels and these elephants date from the period 1660-90.

How did these elephants arrive in Europe?

After the collapse of the Chinese Ming dynasty in 1644, Japan briefly became the world’s largest global exporter of porcelain. Kakiemon-style porcelain, with its distinctive red enamel, was in great demand in Europe. These elephants would have been specifically made for the European market and transported from Japan by the Dutch East India Company - the world’s first multinational company. After Japan tightened control of its borders in the late 1630s, the Dutch were the only Europeans permitted to maintain direct contact through the port of Nagasaki.

Somenishiki-botanmon wine cup(L)

8,000yen

The real root of Arita brand that has fascinated European nobles is this
Kakiemon style, one of the three methods of Arita-yaki.…

Kakiemon Sakaida is a most important and essential person
in the prosperous history of Arita.

His success of expressing Japanese virtue by composing margin
and empty space is beyond description.

This is a true masterpiece that was created with dream and passion,
and appreciated even more when it met crossculture overseas.

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