Arita - (Ceramics) Japanese porcelain Glossary of Antique Terms

Arita - (Ceramics) Japanese porcelain made at Arita a City located in western Saga in the province of Hizen where porcelain has been manufactured since the first half of the sixteenth century. There are today more than 150 kilns active in the Arita region; many have been in operation for generations. Porcelain clay was first discovered in this area by the Korean potter Ri Sanpei in 1616 after which a stoneware and porcelain production started under the control by the feudal lord of Nabeshima. There are two well-known types of decoration, Imari and Kakiemon. The most typical forms are the square, octagonal, and hexagonal section vases, which were to be copied by European factories. Arita porcelains began to reach Europe in the second half of the seventeenth century. The potters Sakaida Kakiemon and Imaizumi Imaemon, contributed greatly to the improvement of Japanese enameled decoration aka-e which Arita is well-known for. The earliest Arita porcelains, circa 1620-40, imitated contemporary Chinese wares of the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as well as Korean stoneware. Colorful over-glazed porcelain wares made in Arita (Arita-yaki) were exported from the Imari port from the 1640's and onward. Arita wares were exported from the Imari port in the Edo period and are called "Ko Imari" meaning Old Imari. In the second half of the 17th century, Arita became increasingly important, producing blue and white, Imari, and Kakiemon porcelain for export to Europe. These were transported to the port of Imari, shipped to the Dutch trading center at Nagasaki and onward to Europe. Wares included garnitures for large vases, dishes, bowls, plates, ewers, figures, and animals. The trade reached its zenith c.1700, but with increasing competition from the Chinese kilns at Jingdezhen and changing tastes in Europe, Japan's export trade declined and by c.1740 had ceased altogether. Other important wares made in the Arita region include the fine porcelains of Hirado and Nabeshima.

Early Japanese porcelain: Arita porcelain in the Dresden CollectionEarly Japanese porcelain: Arita porcelain in the Dresden Collection


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