Nabeshima and Ko-Kutani — Lineage of Design

Toguri Museum of Art

poster for Nabeshima and Ko-Kutani — Lineage of Design

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The Ko-Kutani style in Imari ware developed in the middle of the 17th century, at a time when porcelain-making in Arita was experiencing great advances in both manufacturing and design. These changes gave birth to a dynamic and colorful new style of Imari ware. The tones in the sometsuke underglaze blue were brighter. Smaller, thinner dishes in new shapes could now be made using clay molds. Many new designs, shapes and decorative elements were introduced. But towards the end of the century, the kilns in Arita increasingly turned to exports and designs favored by Europeans. The Ko-Kutani style was carried on instead in the kilns in Okawachi, where Nabeshima ware was made. Nabeshima ware was made, under the auspices of the Saga samurai clan, exclusively as gifts of tribute to be presented to the Shogun and other feudal lords and high-ranking officials. Only the best craftsmen, drawn from the kilns in Arita, worked in the official kiln where it was made. In both technical achievement and dignity of design and technical achievement, Nabeshima ware still represents the pinnacle in Japanese porcelain. It is important to understand, however, that many of the shapes and decorative techniques seen in Nabeshima ware were in fact developed in Arita. Had it not been for the revolutions in technology and design that occurred there during the mid-17th century, the very existence of Nabeshima ware would never have been possible. In this exhibition, we present together approximately 80 pieces of Nabeshima ware and Imari ware from the mid-17th century, inviting you to compare two competing expressions of beauty. <Dish, decorated with three gourds design in underglaze blue and overglaze enamels. Nabeshima ware. Edo period. Late 17th-early 18th century.

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from October 05, 2018 to December 22, 2018

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