Gourd-shaped Jar with Flower-and-Bird Design

Arita ware, Kakiemon style
Japan, 17th century H. 40.0 cm, D. 20.0 cm

This large gourd-shaped jar painted with flowers and birds is an outstanding example of Arita porcelain from the 1670s to the 1680s, at the height of the Kakiemon style. The detailed design of the flowers, birds, and peony sprays, drawn with thin lines and executed in delicate light colors on a milky-white foundation, called nigoshide, exemplify classical Kakiemon features. The striking similarity between the floral-spray pattern in the upper band and border pattern on the ceramic tiles used for the Sutra Hall of the Nishi Honganji Temple, which was built in 1677, suggests that this jar was produced in around the same time. The impressive shape of this stylized jar, enveloped with elegant curves and decorated with colorful paintings, makes it a masterpiece representing early Imari ware produced for export.

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