An Imari charger

Edo period, 1700-1720, Japan

Diameter: 49.7 cm, 19.57 inches

The flat-rimmed plate is painted after the Imari style in underglaze blue, green, red, orange-red enamels and gilt. In the centre is a large chrysanthemum flowerhead among blossoming prunus and peonies, with eighteen radiating petals alternating with diaper and floral patterns and sprinkled with three chrysanthemum medallions in relief. In the broad surrounding band are flowering prunus trees between two cartouches outlined in blue, each containing gambolling shishi (lion). One lion with mouth open, representing the first sound in Japanese alphabet ‘Ah’; and the other with mouth closed, representing the last sound ‘Un’. These two sounds together symbolize the birth and death of all things. On the reverse side are sprays of camellia, chrysanthemum and prunus.

Similar Examples

For similar central chrysanthemum design, see ‘porcelain for palace: the fashion for Japan in Europe’ by John Ayers (1990), London: Oriental Ceramic Society- cat. no. 238; ‘Mistrovská díla japonského porcelánu’, by Filip Suchomel (1997), Praha: Národní galerie-cat. no. 197. Page 145.

For the motif of ‘gambolling shishi’ in Imari porcelain, see ‘Mistrovská díla japonského porcelánu’, by Filip Suchomel (1997), Praha: Národní galerie, cat. no. 144 & 175.

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