Japanese and Chinese antiques and art from B & C
Large Japanese Arita Sometsuke Sake Bottle Meiji

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Porcelain: Pre 1900: item # 1185872

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P. O. Box 291
Derby, CT 06418

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Large Japanese Arita Sometsuke Sake Bottle Meiji

This striking Japanese Arita sometsuke (blue and white porcelain) tokkuri (sake bottle) in bulbous form with elongated neck was hand painted in underglaze cobalt blue and dates to the Meiji period, 19th century. The ovoid body is freely decorated with landscape scenes between a neck covered with tako-karakusa (octopus vine) scrolls and a band of rectangular “jurinmon” lappets surrounding the base. Heavily potted, the glazed base is recessed, and the high foot rim is unglazed and encircled by two blue lines.

Displaying a boldness of design, the tako-karakusa pattern is of purely Japanese origin. The branched curls of the 17th and 18th century tako-karakusa were derived from the curls among the leaves of the early lotus scrolls, which were later changed to include more short “octopus pads” as the gyres became closer. In the early 19th century they had changed to short lines like the ones you see on this bottle, even on high quality pieces. (See examples in “The Lost Century: Japanese Arita Porcelain 1720-1820 in Britain: Selective Catalog” by noted authority Irene Finch.) The juxtaposition of the tightly drawn tako-karakusa design on the neck provides a distinctive contrast to the broad open landscape decoration encircling the body.

Arita is a town on the island of Kyushu which has been a center of Japanese porcelain production since the seventeenth century. With Arita blue and whites, the blue is produced from a cobalt or indigo pigment and is painted straight onto the biscuit, after which the piece is glazed and fired. Ceramics for everyday use were made at the same kilns that were producing highly ornate, purely decorative wares primarily for export. Blue and white sometsuke porcelains with the takokarakusa design are examples of wares made for the domestic Japanese market. These humble storage bottles often have a greater appeal than export ware because they show a highly developed sense for matching materials, form and function with simple beauty.

CONDITION is excellent, with no chips, cracks or restoration. There are a few minor glaze imperfections, including one spot of kiln grit (“kama-kizu”). It is most unusual to find such a large old utilitarian ceramic tokkuri in such great shape.

DIMENSIONS: 13 ¼” (33.6 cm) high, 7” (18 cm) diameter. Weight 3.6 pounds (1.6 kg) weight.

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