by Liza Laserow
Pair of Imari porcelain urns 18th Century – Laserow Antiques
Centre table – Restoration Hardware
Imari porcelain (伊万里焼)
Japanese porcelain made in the town of Arita, in the former Hizen Province, located in the northwestern Kyūshū. Between the second half of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century, large amounts of the porcelain was exported to Europe from the port of Imari, Saga. 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 is still being produced.
There are many types of Imari, but the type you see in the picture above is the color scheme Westerners’ are most familiar with The type is called Kinrande and is colored with cobalt blue underglaze and red and gold overglaze. The color combination was typical for the Japanese porcelain and had not seen in China at that time. Traditional Ming dynasty color porcelain used dominantly red and green, probably due to scarcity of gold in China, whereas gold was abundant in Japan in those days. The subject matter of Imari is diverse, ranging from foliage and flowers to people, scenery and abstractions. Some Imari design structures such as kraak style were adopted from China, but most designs were uniquely Japanese owing to the rich Japanese tradition of paintings and costume design. The porcelain has a gritty texture on the bases, where it is not covered by glaze. There is also blue and white Imari. Kakiemon style Imari is another type of Imari, but it tends to be categorized separately in Europe.