The clay used for Hirado porcelain came from a specific southern Japanese island because of its clear white character and ability to hold details when fired. Hirado porcelain pottery was made for the exclusive use of the house of the Prince of Hirado until the mid-19th century, when it started to be sold both within Japan and for export.
This impressive jardinière features a large dragon that is wrapped all around the bowl. The designer had the skill to apply the dragon in a way that not only follows the overall pattern of the bowl, but also enriches and enlivens this everyday item.
The detail of this raised dragon is finely executed, complete with long claws, scales, ears, and even whiskers. The hand-painted underglaze cobalt blue flowers surrounded by traditional Japanese scrolls and leaf-like motifs strike a balance with the dragon that is both pleasing and exciting. The dragon is an important part of Japanese culture. Among other things, it is a symbol of great power, wisdom, and success. The Japanese dragon is similar to the Chinese dragon, but is more serpentine in its shape, as can be seen in this piece. Toward the bottom of this jardinière is a series of straight lines with crossbars that resemble ancient Greek designs.
The designs in this piece are quite similar to those done by Chuji Fukagawa, of Arita, around 1895. This may not be surprising as the Fukagawa Porcelain Manufacturing Company bought out Hirado around this time. Pieces by him can be found illustrated in “Japanese Porcelain: 1800-1950,” by Nancy Schiffer.
The piece is in excellent condition, especially given its original purpose and its age. The deep, rich glaze has no doubt helped protect it for the last 100-plus years.
It measures 9-3/8 inches in diameter at the top. Where it flares out, it is about 11-1/4 inches in diameter. It stands 9-1/4 inches high.
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