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An elegant and early mid-17th century Ai-Kutani moulded dish, very elegantly painted with a weeping willow tree superimposed upon overlapping folded paper (shikishi)


Kusunokidani kiln, Ai-Kutani type, Arita ware, Hizen province, Japan

Early Edo Period (mid-17th century)

circa 1650-60


The moulded ten-lobed grayish-white porcelain body of shallow circular form decorated with two shikishi (square special paper used for painting or calligraphy) reserved against the blue-ground centre, a boldly painted weeping willow featured on the uppermost paper square; the turned-down corner of the shikishi conveying an air of elegant informality so greatly prized by the Japanese.


The reverse asymmetrically encircled with ginko leaves and a trailing vine. On the base is a fuku mark within a square cartouche. Three spur marks on the base where the dish rested on its sagger in the kiln.


This dish - a most refined and elegant example of the early so-called Ai-Kutani wares produced in Arita - is even more notable as it can be strongly attributed to the important early kiln of Kusunokidani which is now believed to be the kiln at which Kakiemon I (1586-1666) perfected his craft in the late 1640s and throughout the 1650s before establishing his own kiln (Old Kakiemon kiln B) at Nangawara sometime in the 1660s. Identical sherds of the shikishi & willow design dish have been excavated at the Kusunokidani kiln site (see final image attached).


With Japanese paulownia wood storage box.



8 inches in diameter (21.5 cm);  0.85 inches in height (2.2 cm).


Condition report:

In excellent original condition.

An elegant Ai-Kutani dish, shikishi & willow design, Kusunokidani kiln c1650-60


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    An identical sherd to the present dish excavated at the Kusunokidani kiln site and illustrated in Idemitsu Museum of Arts: Ko-Kutani (Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 2004) illustration 13-1. See image attached.

    Similar dishes with shikishi design are found in the Shibata Collection at the Kyushu Ceramic Museum, illustrated in Complete Catalogue of Shibata Collection (2019) no.998.

    Similar dishes with shikishi design are found in"The Burghley Porcelains: an exhibition from the Burghley House collection and based on the 1688 inventory and 1690 Devonshire schedule" (1986) Catalogue to the exhibition shown at Japan House Gallery, New York, May 15-July 27, 1986 and at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Dec. 2, 1986-Feb. 1, 1987, p.107.


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