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Rare Pots and Masterpieces

Rare pots and masterpieces

In the early 7th century, Korean potters started producing porcelain in Japan. They brought with them the knowledge which was needed for the production of high-quality porcelain.

The origin of porcelain is China however and because of this it is no wonder that production and decoration of porcelain was connected with Chinese taste for a very long time, even until today. 

In Europe Japanese porcelain was very popular already in the 17th century. Famous names like „Imari“ or „Kakiemon“ porcelain were much in demand and were therefore copied in Europe in great quantities.

The center of Japanese porcelain was the island Kyushu (in the south of Japan) and especially the city of Arita, where the best craftsmen of the country were located.

Glazed pot in an unusual shape, signed with the artist's name at the side. 

Measurements: 20 cm x 20 cm x 21 cm.

 This pot imitates the shape of a classic display stand and nearly hides the pot itself.


A masterpiece of the Imari potters. This pot is richly decorated with floral motifs, birds and a heroic warrior in full armament.

The high feet, in this case cloud feet, are very typical for Japanese pots and are also covered with floral motifs.

Blue-white technique, measurements: 22,5 cm x 17,2 cm x 10,7 cm


Near Arita (Saga prefecture in the north of Kyushu) lies the seaport Imari. From here, the porcelain ware from Arita was shipped to other towns in Japan. Ships of the Dutch East-Indian Company took the porcelain to Europe.

Imari porcelain, which got its name from the seaport, was produced in or near Arita. The special styles make the difference, they are called Arita, Imari, Kakiemon and Iro-Nabishima style.

These styles were so popular for some time that they were copied in Europe and even in China in high quality. (In Europe for example, by the English manufactories of Staffordshire and the German manufactory in Meißen)

Japan has exqusite high-quality clay types to produce excellent porcelain.

China and Korea have greatly influenced the decoration motifs of Japanese porcelain, but later unique styles were developed which are typically Japanese.

Among these are especially the potteries described above, with their own motifs.

Imari-Arita-Kakiemon styles are the center of the „golden age of Japanese porcelain“.  (recommendable: the annual Arita ceramics bazar from April 29 – May 5 in Arita-machi, Saga prefecture)

Famous bonsai pots from Arita / Imari, three excellent examples of the finest porcelain art. Two pots made with the „Iroe“ technique, a splendid design with opulent colours.

Painted Imari porcelain. A pot which was in use for a very long time which gave it an undescribably beautiful patina. The framed inner part, the so-called picture reserve of the pot, is painted and abundantly decorated like the whole pot. Here we also see the high cloud feet again.

Measurements: 31,6 cm x 26 cm x 20,4 cm


The lion (shishi) in Chinese and Japanese symbolism is a sort of cross of lion and dog (similar to the Chinese Pekingese). The lion painted on this pot therefore has few similarity to a living lion. 

Normally these lion creatures are pictured as a couple. The male lion often has a horn on its forehead, the female doesn't have one. In combination with other symbols like lion puppies, balls, peonies and lucky clouds diverse meanings are displayed. The lion stands for absolute power and not even the element wind can harm it. That is why it is often pictured with ruffled „wave and cloud hair“, like on this beautiful pot.

Very noticeable are the lovely handles, a lion head which sticks its tongue out, and the paw-shaped feet. Ornaments and floral patterns (bamboo, maple, pine) cover the whole pot, a masterpiece of the art of pottery.

Square pot with outward curved walls, painted with lions and landscape.

Measurements: 11,5 cm x 11,5 cm x 8,8 cm


This pot is typically Chinese.

It is impossible to decide whether it is original Chinese or a very good Japanese copy. The dragon motifs were designed like this during the Zhou dynasty („The warring states“ period) 475 - 221 BC.

In the middle between the two dragons there is a symbol for good luck, wealth and longevity, one of the oldest symbols used for the decoration of bonsai pots. The shape of the pot without the motif is still up to date and in use. 

Measurements: 18 cm x 13 cm x 7 cm


Rectangular pot with cloud feet and outward curved rim with blue glaze.

Measurements: 34 cm x 23,9 cm x 14,7 cm


Rectangular pot with cloud feet, overlapping rim and cut corners, made from unglazed stoneware. Cassette engobe painting with landscape motifs.

Measurements: 30,2 cm x 19 cm x 9,9 cm


In Japan there are several exhibitions just for pots, which show classic and modern masterpieces. In this article we displayed some glazed and unglazed pieces of extraordinary beauty. They were part of an exhibition in Mr. Kobayashis Shunka-en museum  in Tokyo.

This article was kindly provided by  BONSAI ART

Text revision : Peter Krebs

Translation: Heike van Gunst


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