Hizen ware, Nabeshima type: porcelain with underglaze blue and colored enamel decoration

Edo period, Empō/Jōkyō eras (1673−87), Diameter: 7⅝ in. (19.3 cm)

With its shallow, flat surface and slightly raised rim, this masterpiece of Japanese seventeenth-century design dates from the earliest period of porcelain manufacture at the Ōkawachi kilns, patronized exclusively by the Nabeshima family, lords of the Saga domain in Hizen province. This kiln was founded in 1675 according to official documents but is considered by modern scholars to have been in operation some years earlier.  A chrysanthemum and floral scroll design circles the dish surface and is framed by an outline of underglaze blue along the edge of the plate.  This eye-catching arrangement of red and blue for the chrysanthemum and the vivid emerald green and yellow of the leaves is typical of early Nabeshima wares, which derived their decorative compositions from imported textiles and book illustrations, as well as the local flora and fauna.  The underside features three sprays of flowering peony surrounding a raised ring foot decorated with a chain of heart-shaped motifs. Another dish from this service is held in the collection of the Tōguri Museum in Tokyo.

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