Early-Nabeshima Small Dish with Design of Flower(Middle 17th century)

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It is the masterpiece of early-nabeshima that is fascinated by its novel design. The sharp and rigorous modeling that seems to cut when touched, the vivid blue and white drawn on the finest white porcelain base, and the white center method, which can be said to be the ultimate beauty of the margins, are brilliant. Early-nabeshima is rare because there are fewer of them than in the peak period. The characteristics are also well expressed in the thread cutting molding, the cloisonne design on the bottom, and the chinese flower design on the back side. The crimson rim is very rare in Nabeshima, and can only be seen in some works. In the process of approaching the completion stage, there is a generosity and charm that is not bound by strict conventions like the peak period. "Nabeshima" has met the demand of the wealthy, with the shogunate at the top. It is the work published in "Revised edition Early-Nabeshima" and "Nabeshima Small Dish‐Nabeshima blue and white small dish and its surroundings-".

Product Code
Edo Period
Middle 17th century
Bottom Diameter
Paulonia Box
『Revised edition Early-Nabeshima』、Edited by Kazuo Seki、Soujusha Art Publishing、P41、No34、Published Work
『Nabeshima Small Dish‐Nabeshima blue and white small dish and its surroundings‐』、Edited by Kazuo Seki、Old-Imari Publication Society、P11、No17、Published Work
There are tiny chips at the edge

It has soft and beautiful base, ideal blue and white color, and excellent baking, and meets all the conditions of first class work. Although there are two tiny chips at the edge, we can say it is nearly perfect condition.


Nabeshima Ware

Nabeshima ware is an exquisite and prestigious specially made porcelain produced at the nabeshima domain kiln in okawachiyama under the patronage of the nabeshima family of the saga domain in hizen province. This porcelain produced by the nabeshima domain kiln, the only kiln in japan controlled by a clan, is a world class masterpiece of porcelain, far superior to old-kakiemon in its technical mastery, and has established an extremely high reputation. It is no exaggeration to say that the highest quality pieces are on par with those produced by the jingdezhen imperial kiln in china. By offering nabeshima ware to the tokugawa shogunate in edo, the nabeshima clan demonstrated its loyalty and obedience. They were also given outside the domain to maintain friendly relations with other feudal lords. Nabeshima ware, unlike imari ware, was not intended for sale but rather as a gift to neighboring regions, so its producers gave no regard to profitability. It is also noteworthy that these kilns did not follow the convention of producing vessels for tea ceremonies, as most clans’ kilns did, but instead focused on practical works, mainly dishes. In the hizen region, pottery production areas were called “Yama”. In the nabeshima domain, the kiln used by the offerings were to fire pottery was called “Odougu-Yama(Nabeshima Domain Kiln)”. These kilns were also called “Tome-Yama”, which means “the lord’s kiln,” to show the utmost respect. In the babeshima domain kiln, the most skillful craftsmen from other kilns in hizen province were called in to establish the nabeshima clan’s unique style of kilns under strict control and in an environment separated from other kilns. According to records from the end of the edo period, 31 potters produced 5,031 pieces per year. These kilns took strict precautions to prevent secret techniques from leaking, such as setting up gates at the entrances and exits and prohibiting the passage of unauthorized visitors. Records tell us that all craftsmen working here were allowed to have family names and carry swords and were exempt from paying any public fees. To reach the site of nabeshima domain kiln, which is about 5km north in a straight line from the center of arita town, one has to take a long detour, which is more than 8km long. Such an environment sufficiently isolated the nabeshima domain kiln from the outside. Production was modeled after the jingdezhen kiln in china, with a division of labor by specialty, where each craftsman did his best. Even a single dish went through the hands of many craftsmen. It is said that extra pieces were made in case of breakage during transportation and that 20 pieces were offered at a time. In the peak period, the kilns consolidated the most sophisticated techniques and methods. Blue and white, celadon are also well known, but the most famous was “Iro-Nabeshima”. Iro-nabeshima is outlined in paint, glazed with transparent glaze, fired at high temperature(blue and white), and overglazed within its frame with the primary colors of red, green, and yellow. This technique was based on the “Tousai” of the seika period(1465-87)of china’s ming dynasty. Because these works came from jingdezhen imperial kiln, the kilns could create highly sophisticated works without sparing any effort or regard for profit. The designs reflect japanese taste, departing from their chinese and korean influences, and feature unique and sophisticated designs centering on plants from the natural world. These works also draw inspiration from landscape paintings, noh costumes, and momoyama-edo period paintings. A typical vessel of this type is “Mokuhai-gata”. It features a high kodai(the bottom part that supports the vessel)made with a potter’s wheel. Kodai are thought to have taller bases than regular works from arita kilns to show their prestige. Many kodai works have a unique design called “Kushiba-mon” around the outer surface painted using blue and white. Generally, this technique was only allowed for the nabeshima domain kiln at that time and strictly forbidden in other kilns. In the peak period, these works employed a meticulous technique of painting inside the outlines drawn using blue and white. However, as time went on, the lines gradually became longer and the brushstrokes more disorganized, and a trend toward simplified, single line outlines gradually emerged. The works underwent several rigorous inspections by officers, and only those that passed were delivered to the clan, while any remaining rejected works were destroyed. The nabeshima domain kiln was dismantled in 1871 with the abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures.