Friday, 11 January 2013

Imari Porcelain

Over the last year I’ve collected six pieces of porcelain with lines etched in red. Looking closely you spot trails of paintbrushed gold. You can just see the gold line gliding through the middle of the branch below on the left shard.  The red and gold are over glazed and contrast strikingly with the chunkier splashes of under glazed cobalt blue.
Mudlarking Find: Imari Porcelain

Mudlarking Finds: Imari Porcelain shards

Surprisingly they could be 350 years old. Initially made in Arita, Japan  and exported from the port of Imari, between 1650 – 1750. There are many subcategories, the shards pictured above I suspect are Kinrande Imari.

Imari porcelain was exported by the Dutch East India Company and became popular when Chinese Porcelain was difficult to source due to the chaos at the end of the Ming Dynasty in 1644 and subsequently by the decision of the Qing Dynasty to cease trading between 1656-1684. Quite something to think these small fragments may have been carried by these enormous old, old ships below 
Dutch Ships 1685 by Isaac Sailmaker (National Maritime Museum)
Export from Japan ceased when China opened for business again, as Japan couldn’t compete with China’s low labour costs. China cashed in on the popularity of Imari in Europe and replicated the designs. This pattern is most common in export porcelain in the early Qing dynasty period from 1662-1722.  I've also read there was a surge in Imari imports into England in late 19th century when all things Japanese were in fashion. 
Chinese Imari Tea Caddy (Antiques now) 

Chinese Imari Style (Aspire Auctions)


  1. Fantastic finds! and as always ... love the history!

  2. Amazing the quality of your research astounds me and it does drive my enthusiasm even more through these cold winter months on the coast.

  3. Wonderful finds once again and made all the more so by your attention to detail.

  4. I would like to contact you for a request about Imari porcelain.
    Could you please send me one email?