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Arita, Hizen province [Japan]

Pair of beakers c.1690-1730

Porcelain painted in underglaze blue, overglaze enamel colours and gold | 36.5 x 19.0 x 19.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 26783

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A pair of Japanese Imari porcelain vases, of octagonal ovoid form. Sprays of peony, wisteria, chrysanthemum and plum blossom appear in fan-shaped panels around the sides of the jars and these matching beakers. Fans (ōgi) had been used in Japan since ancient times, and by the Edo period both paintings and lacquerware were produced in forms imitating their shape. These accessories – some so extravagant that they were proscribed by sumptuary law in 1701 – became easily recognisable symbols of Japanese culture in the West, and proved popular motifs on export porcelain. Decorated to match jars and covers RCINs 949.1-2 and 29673. Fitted as lamps.

Text adapted from Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen: Volume II and Japan: Courts and Culture (2020)