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Imari 9 dragon footed bowl - Chinese or Japanese?

Posted By: Tim
Posted Date: Jun 03, 2016 (10:28 AM)

I bought this bowl thinking that it was a Chinese Yongzheng period Imari bowl made for the Japanese market.

I can not find another to compare, so it raises a few questions for me and I am hoping someone better versed in Imari porcelain can help.

Is this Japanese or Chinese? Age? Is this Imari, or is this some form of Doucai porcelain mimicking Imari?

My arguments for Chinese -

The bowl seems to be the paste and quality of fine Chinese porcelain. Very white and without imperfections, what one might expect from fine 18-19th c. Chinese kilns.

The unglazed ring on the bottom suggest a tube shaped stand used in the kiln (I think more typical for Chinese porcelains), rather than 3 or 5 kiln marks as a result of the typical Japanese kiln stand.

The 9 dragon motif, seems to suggest traditional Chinese influence. And the rending is very tight...not loose as typically found in Imari.

The color of the cobalt blue is quite striking, high quality. Plus, the use of yellow glaze (only in a few flowers on inside sides of the bowl) and 2 tones of red (one more of an iron red, the other a deep copper red)seem to fit the Chinese color scheme of Doucai, except they did not use green enamels in this example.

There is no use of gold gilt...sort of a staple in Japanese Imari.

My arguments for Japanese -

The ribbed edge to the bowl and tripod feet is found more commonly in Japanese porcelains.

The 3 toed style of the dragon is more Japanese (although I know there are Chinese examples in earlier wares).

Imari is more traditionally Japanese, and Arita varieties do seem to be more finely/technically executed and can have a more Chinese look to them. And, kilns like Fukugawa have produced some real fine detailed pieces.

I'm aware that Japanese did produce Imari in styles intended for the Chinese market, so they may have incorporated the 9 dragon motif to accommodate their Chinese client.


So, some thoughts on this piece would be appreciated. Thanks!

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