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Kutani geese

Ko-Kutani, Arita kiln c.1650

Measuring 14cm (5.51 inches) in diameter

Literature: see the exhibition catalogue of Ko-Kutani: Aote-to-kozara, Hankyu Hyakkaten, 1974 (Takigawa Hoseido, Catalogue of an exhibition organized by and held at Hanyu Hyakkaten, Nov.8-13, 1974, Hankyu Dentetsu Kabushiki Kaisha), monochrome plate no. 85 for an identical Ko-Kutani circular dish with wild geese and reeds.


With outstretched wings, a wild goose decends to the waters below, honking greeting at his mate who stands by another goose on a reedy sandbank. This theme of 'Goose Descending to Sandbar' is derived from the great Song cycle of painting - 'Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers', the earliest known painted version by Song Di (c.1015 - c.1080). This theme was beloved in Japan. The composition on this piece is very similar to a silk painting by Lu Ji (c.1420 - c.1505) entitled 'Lu ding lai yan' ('Wild Geese Returning to Reedy Sandbank') illustrated in Gugong shuhua tulu (Palace Museum Catalogue of Calligraphy and Paintings), col.7, p.179. The theme of geese in late autumn on a lonely river bank heralds the coming of winter.

This very early Arita-kiln non-biscuit (namagake) porcelain of circular form with gently flared rim is covered with a very pale bluish-grey glaze, the interior superbly painted with the five overglaze enamels of pale yellow, brilliant blue, turquoise green, iron red and bold aubergine, with black outlining, depicting a wild goose in flight above two geese standing amongst reeds on a sandbank. The underside is decorated with black outlined turquoise-green symbolic objects and iron red tassels. This early enamelled dish was manufactured in Arita just before trade with Europe through the V.O.C. (Dutch East India Company) began.

Ko Kutani geese & reeds dish, Arita kiln, c1650

An Important and Exceptionally Fine Early Enamelled Arita Iroe Ko-Kutani non-biscuit (namagake) porcelain dish

depicting Wild Geese and Reed (Ashi Gan No Zu)
early Edo period, Joo era (1650-55)

circa 1650

Kakiemon cranes

Ai-Kakiemon, Nangawara kiln, Arita c.1660-1670

An Exceedingly Striking, Fine and Early Ai-Kakiemon

non-biscuit (namagake) porcelain dish

depicting Cranes and Bamboo

Nangawara kiln (Old Kakiemon kiln site)
early Edo period, Kanbun era (1661-1673)

circa 1660-1670

Measuring 21.3cm (8.38 inches) in diameter


underglaze cobalt blue kaku-fuku seal mark within a double square to the base


A simply superb and possibly unique example representing the transition between the Ko-Kutani style and the Kakiemon style manufactured in the Old Kakiemon kiln (Nangawara) in the late Kanbun period. Identical cobalt-blue seal marks within a double-square have been excavated at the Old Kakiemon kiln site. The interior is very asymmetrically and naturalistically painted in sharp, stunningly vivid strokes of cobalt blue - an exceptionally fine example of the Ai-Kakiemon (Blue Kakiemon) style.

This very early Kakiemon non-biscuit (namagake) porcelain of circular form with gently flared rim is covered with a very pale bluish-grey glaze, the interior superbly and sharply painted with the a pair of cranes among bamboo shoots. The reverse is finely encircled with a very neatly drawn scrolling karakusa, and a cobalt blue kaku-fuku seal mark within a double square to the base. The underside set with three spar marks, and the edge of the footrim burnt orange.


This early transitional dish is exceptionally rare in that it marks a period when both non-biscuit fired and biscuit-fired porcelains were manufactured at the same time and at the same place - on the cusp of when the so-called Ko-Kutani style would be superseded by that of the the Kakiemon.

Kutani peonies

Ai-Kutani, Chokichidani kiln, Arita c.1655

A Splendid and Exceedingly Rare Early Ai-Kutani moulded dish with pie-crust rim and sharply undulating cavetto, superbly painted with flowering branches of Peony issuing from Rockwork,

Chokichidani kiln

early Edo period, Joo era (1652-55)

circa 1655

Measuring 20.3 cm (7.99 in) in diameter


A cobalt-blue Kaku-Fuku seal character on the reverse within a double square, the edge of the footring burnt red, thickly potted base.


An identical dish in the Shibata Collection at the Kyushu Ceramic Museum, illustrated in Catalogue VII, no.111.

Similar moulded porcelain dishes illustrated in Yamashita, Sakuro "Ai-Kutani to Ai-Kakiemon" (1983), and in Tsuchioka, K. "The Shibata Collection, vol.II, nos. 155-157.


The exceptional finely potted white porcelain body of shallow circular form with a sharply moulded pie-crust rim dressed in iron brown fuchi-beni rim glaze with a superbly formed cavetto of undulating, spiralling form.


The interior is boldly painted with a large central circular medallion depicting flowering branches of peony issuing from rockwork on a steep ground, the reverse encircled with a finely drawn double-lined scrolling hana-karakusa.

Kakiemon-related, Arita kiln, c.1655-65

An Early Enamelled Ware Kakiemon-related shell-shaped dish on high foot, enamelled in two-tone overglaze blue with a flowering Himalayan blue poppy and two poppy seed-heads (pods) growing from the scalloped edge

Arita, Japan, early Edo period


Early Enamelled Ware; Kakiemon-related

Measuring 12.9 cm (5.1") in length; 9 cm (3.5") in width; 2.9 cm (1.14") in height

A similar example of this exceptionally rare dish is on display in the Japanese Gallery of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. It is thought that the present dish may predate the Ashmoleon example, which differs only in that the Ashmolean example has two-tone enamelling in overglaze blue and green, whereas the present example has two-tone enamelling in dark overglaze blue and light overglaze blue.

No other example of this early blue poppy design on a shell-shaped Arita dish is known.

An incredibly rare piece of early Japanese porcelain history, likely representing a pivotal period in which the early Ko-Kutani enamels transitioned into the developing style of the Kakiemon.



see Impey, Oliver 'Japanese Export Porcelain: The Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford' (2002), pg.93, no.97 (Story Fund, 1989.168) categorized as Early Enamelled Ware; Kakiemon-related, for the only other known recorded example.