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Japanese Porcelain Marks

Nabeshima ware (Nabeshima-yaki)

Nabeshima ware (Nabeshima-yaki) is a type of Japanese Arita ware of an unusually high quality.

Nabeshima is a supreme Japanese porcelain ware that was manufactured at the Nabeshima feudal kiln located in today's Saga prefecture. Nabeshima ware was not a commercial kiln for export or local use, but made only under strict supervision for the Nabeshima family, during the Edo period.

It was produced in Lord Nabeshima of Saga Domain's kiln at Okawachi near Arita in the Edo period, for the use and benefit of the family. The name therefore derives from the family.

Production began around 1700. At that time the Okawachi kiln was already in use, and continued to make other wares at the same time. The production continued until the late 19th century, with similar wares also being produced elsewhere by descendants of the master lineage. This production continues to the present day.

Unlike most Arita ware, the designs drew on Japanese rather than Chinese traditions, especially those of textile design, and are often marked by a free use of empty space. Much of the wares were dishes for food made in sets of five, with a high foot. These followed in shape the dishes in lacquered wood, which until then were the preferred dining dishes used by the aristocracy.

The Nabeshima clan used them themselves and gave them to other feudal lords as prestige gifts. Very little was exported until the Meiji period. A variety of designs are used ranging from the abstract to the representational where animal and plant designs are particularly popular.

The decoration technique differs from that of most Japanese porcelain, with the outlines of the pattern done in underglaze blue before the overglaze colored enamels are added. This manner of decoration is called doucai in Chinese porcelain, and was pioneered during the Ming, Xuande period but are mostly associated to the Ming, Chenghua reign (1465-87). This type of decoration was revived in China during the Yongzheng period (1723-35) and appears to have been roughly parallel to its use on Nabeshima ware.

It is thought that the establishing of a superior Nabeshima kiln had aimed at stabilizing the relationship with the Tokugawa shogun family and other influences by presenting Nabeshima porcelain wares as gifts, instead of the popular and valuable Chinese porcelain.

The establishing of the kiln could have been as early as after moving to Ookawachi, around 1670, the Lord of Nabeshima had begun to appoint the superintendent for the kiln and ordered strict supervision, closed to the outside, in order to keep their technical developments secret.

Most of Nabeshima porcelain made between the Enpou era (1673-1681) and around 1750 have been colored with four colors; red, blue, green, yellow, and the designs were adopted from plants or patterns on kimonos. The elaborated, striking, and original expressions found on these wares looks remarkable modern and make it seem impossible that they were made three hundreds years ago. They possess a beauty which can be shared today.

Nabeshima dishes was made with high foot rims called mokuhai-gata and came in standardized sizes of 31/2, 6, 8, and 12 inches.

Of their various kinds of porcelain the 'period of prosperity' was characterized by decorations in cheerful colors. Celadon porcelain twisted work is called 'hineri-zaiku'. So-called Old Nabeshima porcelain such as Matsugatani porcelain, are considered to be the origin of Nabeshima porcelain.

Jan-Erik Nilsson

Main source; Tokyo's Toguri Museum exhibition: Nabeshima Porcelain - Field of Flowers but also Wikipedia, Gotheborg.com experts and other online resources have been used.



NABESHIMA
Nabeshima ware is an unusually high quality Arita ware, originally made for the Nabeshima clan to obe used for their personal need and as prestigious gifts. The decoration is remarkable "modern" in its appearance and parallels the Chinese doucai of the Chenghua (Ming) and Yongzheng 1723-1735 (Qing) periods. While there are older porcelain from the same kiln area the typical Nabeshima ware began around 1700. At that time the Okawachi kiln was already in use, and continued to make other wares at the same time. The production continued until the late 19th century, with similar wares also being produced elsewhere by descendants of the master lineage. This production continues to the present day.

1553. Mark: Genemon. Plate appears to be from the Imaemon kiln, uncertain which generation. The decoration appears to be a Japanese white round radish, called a Daikon. Size is 21 cm (8 inches) in diameter.

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Marks and information culled from the Gotheborg Discussion Board. The gotheborg.com marks pages was originally initiated by a donation of marks from the collection of Karl-Hans Schneider, Euskirchen, Germany in July 2000. The section have since then been greatly extended by a large number of contributing collectors.