Masterpieces of Nabeshima Ware

Toguri Museum of Art

poster for Masterpieces of Nabeshima Ware

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The Toguri Museum of Art, a private museum in Shibuya’s upscale Shoto neighborhorhood, opens the new year with an exhibition of approximately 70 examples of fine Nabeshima ware porcelain. Nabeshima ware was made in a special kiln built and operated under the direct control of the Nabeshima samurai clan, which ruled Arita and all of the Saga Domain. The clan spared no expense in outfitting this special kiln, staffing it with the most skilled and talented potters from other kilns.

The ‘golden age” of Nabeshima ware, when it reached its zenith of artistic and technological accomplishment, was from the late 17th century to the early 18th century. The dishes were produced in four strictly controlled sizes: shakuzara (one shaku; about 30 cm), nanasunzara (7 sun; about 21 cm), gosunzara (5 sun; about 15 cm) and kozara (under 4 sun; about 12 cm). Colors were similarly prescribed and limited to just four hues: sometsuke underglaze blue and overglaze red, green and yellow. Since Nabeshima ware was manufactured as gifts of tribute, most of the designs carried auspicious meanings, featuring peaches, turtles and other motifs that were believed to invite luck and good fortune, as well as themes from traditional Japanese poetry. Such designs were skillfully adapted for round dishes and applied with the greatest care, achieving a delicate and refined expression.

The highlight of this exhibition, which shouldn’t be missed, is a particularly fine shakuzara with a very unusual motif of rowing oars. Nabeshima ware in this large size are extremely rare; there are said to be only 25 other known examples in Japan. This dish was previously held in private collections in Europe, and is a new acquisition for the museum.

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from January 07, 2016 to March 21, 2016
Open on March 21st.

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