Sake bottle "Sometsuke tokkuri"
Edo period, late 17th century, Japan, private collection from Finland.
The Edo period (Edo-jidai), also called the Tokugawa period (Tokugawa jidai) is the period between 1603 and 1867 in the history of Japan, when Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyo. Emerging from the chaos of the Sengoku period, the Edo period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, perpetual peace, and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. The period derives its name from Edo (now Tokyo), where on March 24, 1603, the shogunate was officially established by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 3, 1868, after the fall of Edo. The Japanese were early admirers of Chinese blue and white and, despite the difficulties of obtaining cobalt (from Iran via China), soon produced their own blue and white wares, usually in Japanese porcelain, which began to be produced around 1600. As a group, these are called sometsuke. Much of this production is covered by the vague regional term Arita ware, but some kilns, like the high-quality Hirado ware, specialized in blue and white, and made little else. A high proportion of wares from about 1660-1740 were Japanese export porcelain, mostly for Europe.
Arita ware is a broad term for Japanese porcelain made in the area around the town of Arita, in the former Hizen Province, northwestern Kyūshū island. It is also known as Hizen ware after the wider area of the province. This was the area where the great majority of early Japanese porcelain, especially Japanese export porcelain, was made. Sake bottles (tokkuri) of this shape, with the lines below the neck to facilitate the tying of a cloth cover, and a bulbous body, exist in different sizes, some undecorated, some over-decorated, but most Japanese decorated in imitation of early Ming style with birds, peonies and pomegranates. The flower pattern on this delicate globular bottle with long neck was painted with soft brushstrokes, resulting in a fluid appearance and dark cobalt blue coloring. The focus on an isolated motif from nature is characteristic of early Imari porcelain, a style that differed from Chinese porcelain, which would later have a profound effect on Japanese wares.
Gorgeous, aged Arita ware (early Imari) sometsuke tokkuri. Decorated with a stylized traditional floral motif with chrysantemums, grasses and lingzhi? Delicate underglaze deep dark blue color is partially faded. Excellent condition. Intact. Minimal hairline cracks in glazing. Dirt, dust and glazing defects. Size approx. 31,0cm x 17,5cm x 17,5cm. Weight c. 1507g.