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An Exceptionally Fine and Early Ai-Kakiemon moulded porcelain small dish (mame-sara) in the form of an open peony flower, the petals painted in sumptuous cobalt blue tones with highlights picked out using ink-repel technique (sumi hajiki)


Kusunokidani kiln or Old Kakiemon B kiln (Nangawara), Arita, Hizen province, Japan

early Edo period, Kanbun era (1660-1673)

circa 1660-1670


Extremely finely and delicately moulded floral form on a high foot, gorgeously painted in rich and varied tones of cobalt blue in the naturalistic form of an open peony flower, the petals elegantly decorated using sumi hajiki technique (literally meaning "ink repel”) in which ink is applied under areas of cobalt; during firing, the ink burns off removing any overlying color (Wilson 1995:118). The underside decorated with delicate sprigs of daffodils; the high footrim encircled by a comb design in the Nabeshima taste.


These small dishes, called mame-sara 豆皿 are revered in Japan; there is a love of the aesthetic beauty of small objects that fit into the palm of one’s hand. This particular example is extremely finely potted and painted.


A simply superb example representing the early Ai-Kakiemon style manufactured in either the Kusunokidani kiln or Old Kakiemon B kiln in Shimo-Nangawarayama in the Kanbun period. According to Koji Ohashi "among all the inscriptions used by the Old Kakiemon kiln, this [particular character mark] represents the very characteristic of the Old Kakiemon's work." (Seki p.102)


Recent research has suggested that Kakiemon I (1586-1666) worked at the Kusunokidani kiln before moving to Nangawara to establish his own kiln (Old Kakiemon B kiln) in the 1660s. It is suggested that this mark is the character mark used by Kakiemon I first at Kusunokidani kiln and then in Nangawara.



underglaze cobalt blue character mark within a double square to the base



10.8cm long by 6.5cm wide


Condition report:

In very good original condition. Two miniscule flakes to the rim, one at 12 o'clock, the other at 7 o'clock. In two small sections on the reverse, the glaze pulled away during firing; this kiln-flaw is original to the dish.

An exceptionally fine Ai-Kakiemon dish in the form of a peony, c1660-70


    For more information, please contact


    416 666 6295

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