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Cool Japan / Imari porcelain (有田焼)

File:ImariA.JPG
("Imari" plate, made at Arita, 18th century)

Imari porcelain is the name for Japanese porcelain wares made in the town of Arita, in the former Hizen Province, northwestern Kyushu. They were exported to Europe extensively from the port of Imari, Saga between the second half of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century. The Japanese as well as Europeans called them Imari. In Japanese, these porcelains are also known as Arita-yaki (有田焼). Imari or Arita porcelain has been produced continuously until the present date.
File:ImariC.jpg
(Imari ware imitated in Crown Derby porcelain; early 19th century)

Imari was simply the trans-shipment port for Arita wares. The kilns at Arita formed the heart of the Japanese porcelain industry, which developed in the 17th century, after kaolin was discovered in 1616 by an immigrant Korean potter, Yi Sam-pyeong or Kanage Sambei (1579–1655). Kanage Sambei is the name he adopted after he naturalized to Japan. Yi Sam-pyeong voluntarily emigrated to Japan leading his extended family (180 persons) responding to the offer of a privileged position in Japan, after the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598). After the discovery, Arita kilns began to produce revised Korean style blue and white porcelains known as Shoki-Imari. There are many other Korean descendant potters other than Kanagae family, and they produced Shoki-Imari. Shoki-Imari is limited to blue and white.
File:Istanbul.Topkapi021.jpg
(Imari dish, 1700-1740 (Topkapı Palace, Istanbul))

Early experiments with overglaze colored enamels at Arita are associated with the famous Sakaida Kakiemon (1596–1666), whose name is memorialized in "Kakiemon" ware, the other main tradition in lightly fired overglaze enamel decors. Dutch traders had a monopoly on the insatiable export trade, the first large order being placed at Arita by the Dutch East India Company in 1656. The trade peaked in the late 17th century and was slowly replaced by Chinese kilns in the early 18th century; it ended in 1756, as social conditions in China settled with the full establishment of the Qing Dynasty. Imitating Arita designs, fine "Chinese Imari" export wares were produced in the 18th century, eclipsing the original Japanese exports.
File:Imari porcelain bowl Japan circa 1640.jpg
(Imari Kakiemon porcelain bowl, Imari, Japan, circa 1640. Sèvres - Cité de la céramique.)

Imari patterns, as well as "Kakiemon" designs and palette of colors, influenced some early Orientalizing wares produced by the porcelain manufactories at Meissen, Chantilly, or later at Vincennes.
European centers imitated the style of "Imari" wares, initially in faience at Delft in the Netherlands, and in the early 19th century at Robert Chamberlain's factory at Worcester.

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By TS on Jun 10, 2012
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