Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
From the mid-17th century, Kakiemon wares were produced at the factories of Arita in Japan with much in common with the Chinese "Famille Verte" style. The superb quality of its enamel decoration was highly prized in the West and widely imitated by the major European porcelain manufacturers.
There exist other Japanese ceramic arts. The most known are Imari, Arita Blue & White, Fukugawa, Kutani, Banko Earthenware and Satsuma pottery.
The art of enamelling
The Japanese potter Sakaida Kakiemon (1596-1666) is popularly credited with being the first in Japan to discover the secret of enamel decoration on porcelain, known as 'Akae'. The name "Kakiemon" was bestowed by his overload on Sakaida, who had perfected a design of twin persimmons (kaki: persimmon) and who then developed the distinctive palette of soft red, yellow, bleu and turquoise green. Kakiemon has become a generic term describing wares made in the Arita factories using the characteristic Kakiemon overglaze enamels and decorative styles. However, shards from the Kakiemon kiln site at Nangawara show that blue and white and celadon wares were also produced.
Kakiemon decoration is usually of high quality, delicate and with asymmetric well-balanced designs. These were sparsely applied to emphasize the fine white porcelain background body known in Japan as NIGOSHIDE (milky white) which was used for the finest pieces. Kakiemon wares are usually painted with birds, flying squirrels, the "Quail and Millet" design, the "Three Friends of Winter" (pine, prunus and bamboo), flowers (especially the chrysanthemum, the national flower of Japan) and figural subjects such as the popular "Hob in the Well", illustrating a Chinese folk tale where a sage saves his friend who has fallen into a large fishbowl.
Kakiemon in Europe
The Kakiemon porcelain was imported into Europe and prized even above Chinese porcelain. Augustus the Strong of Saxony and Mary II of England both owned examples. The earliest inventory to include Japanese porcelain in Europe was made at Burghley House, Lincolnshire, in 1688. These included a fabulous standing elephant with its trunk raised as a model of two wrestlers.
Wares included bowls, dishes and plates, often hexagonal, octagonal or fluted with scalloped edges. The famed white "nigoshide" body was only used with open forms, and not for closed shapes such as vases, bottles and teapots, or for figures and animals. The hexagonal Kamiemon vases and covers known as Hampton Court" vases were named after a pair at Hampton Court Palace, London, recorded in an inventory of 1696. Around 1730, this shape was copied at Meissen, Germany, which entered into a "sister city" contract with Arita, in 1979. The style was also adopted and copied in Chelsea and Worcester in the 1750's and by Samson in the 19th century.
The Kakiemon porcelain proved a major influence on the new porcelain factories of the 18th-century Europe. Meissen copies could be extremely close to the originals, alternatively the factory painters might just borrowed designs and use them with other shapes and styles.
Kakiemon style was also adapted in Germany and Austria by the Du Paquier and "Vienna factories" and in France at Chantilly, Mennecy and Saint-Cloud. Kakiemon was also an influence on Dutch Delft pottery and Chinese export porcelain.
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