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Nabeshima Porcelain
Exhibition Review 2002



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Toguri Museum of Art (in Shibuya, Tokyo)
Exhibition of Nabeshima Porcelain
UNTIL JUNE 23, 2002

Below information adapted
 from the museum's newsletter

Nabeshima Porcelain Nabeshima Porcelain Nabeshima Porcelain Nabeshima Porcelain

Tokyo's Toguri Museum is now exhibiting Nabeshima Porcelain - Field of Flowers from its museum collection through June 23. Nabeshima is a supreme porcelain ware manufactured at Nabeshima feudal kiln (Saga prefecture today) under strict supervision during the Edo period. It is considered that the birth of Nabeshima porcelain had aimed to stabilize the relationship with the Tokugawa shogun family and other influences by presenting them as homage instead of popular and valuable Chinese porcelain. There is still unsolved history about the Nabeshima feudal kiln, although it is accepted that the kiln had matured at Ookawachi in the end. After moving to Ookawachi around 1670, the Lord of Nabeshima had begun to appoint the superintendent for the kiln and ordered strict supervision closed to the outside in order to keep their technical developments secret. Although there is an interpretation that the ceramists have been treated as if slaves, it was honorable to be chosen as a feudal ceramist. As a matter of fact, feudal ceramists earned more and matured their skills, named Nabeshima porcelain, under this political purpose.

Most of Nabeshima porcelain made between the Enpou era (1673-1681) and around 1750 have been colored with four colors; red, blue, green, yellow, and the designs were adopted from plants or patterns on kimonos. The elaborated, striking, and original expressions found on these wares make it seem impossible that they were three hundreds years ago! They possess a beauty which can be shared today.

The shapes of Nabeshima ware have been formed with higher ground 'stands,'called mokuhai-gata' and the sizes have been standardized in four lengths; 31/2, 6. 8, and 12 inches. This standardization helped to define their originality and nobility.

The museum's first exhibition room is decorated cheerfully with eight-inch dishes manufactured during the 'period of prosperity' to deliver a sense of the seasons, which amounts to half of the display. Room two is ornamented with celadon porcelain, named 'hineri-zaiku' (twisted work) including a melon-shaped incense burner shown for the first time in public. Also on display are so-called Old Nabeshima porcelain such as Matsugatani porcelain, which are considered to be the origin of Nabeshima porcelain. 

We will be glad if you get a chance to see these three hundreds years old porcelain, shinning without a fade of splendor today.

Major Displays

  • Dish, decorated with collection of treasures in underglaze blue
    Late 17th century ~ early 18th century
  • Dish, decorated with flower motifs in reticular pattern in underglaze blue and overglaze enamels
    Late 17th century ~ early 18th century
  • Cups in five different designs (Late 17th century)
  • Incense burner, shaped in a form of melon and covered with celadon glaze (Late 17th century)
  • Twisted dish, decorated with design of pomegranate and covered with red-copper glaze
    Mid 17th century
  • 113 works are on display

How to Get There:
A detailed map can be found by visiting
Toguri Museum's web site & clicking the "Information" button

For more on Japanese porcelain, please see our


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