A Namasu or small serving bowl in revived Kakiemon style decorated with a depiction of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove in low moulded relief; here represented by just two of them. The Sages were synominous with a hedonistic lifestyle of drinking and poetry. The foliate rim of the dish with a fuchi beni, brown glaze. The central roundel in the well of the bowl decorated with a Namban or Tojin style figure of a European with a two legged long tailed dog like creature. This is the kind of novelty design that was particularly popular in the Nagasaki market both with visiting Japanese and Dutch buyers.
The motif has a theatrical origin. The figure can be seen as representing what in England was called a “Merrie Andrew” or “Jack Pudding” and in Germany “Hans Wurst” from his prodigious appetite, a combination of a fool and clown, and occasional animal trainer.
A possible precedent for the figure is a mid 18C Delft plate which shows two figures, the Mountebank, Hans Buling (a Dutchman), and his assistant "Merry Andrew" with their monkey on a stage. A scene taken a series of “Cries of London” prints by Marcellus Laroon.
The reverse of the dish is plain but for a single character mark, possibly Arashi, meaning storm, or a variant of the Chinese character for shou, longevity, which identifies the dish as coming from the Higuchi kiln in the Nangawara valley. See Shibata Collection Volume I no 460 for an identical dish. Dating Meiwa era, late mid Edo period, circa 1770-1790. Provenance, the Melplash Court Sale, collection of the late Timothy Lewis.
The dish is in good condition, but for a small almost invisible flake to the interior of the foot ring (11 O'clock image no 5). The dish measures 15.5cm in diameter and stands 4.5cm high to the rim. UK Shipping is included in the sterling £ price, and International shipping is included in the $ price.