This very handsome Hirado vase features a nice uncluttered design of butterflies done in underglaze Hirado blue. These are surrounded by a number of delicate relief mums all over the vase – a total of six mums and their attached leaves have been applied to the vase – two on the tall narrow neck and four on the sides.
The base of the globular lower half of the vase has a geometric nishidike design in the same underglaze Hirado blue. The vase measures nine and one half inches wide by 5 and a half” diameter at it widest. The top opening is 1 and a half" diameter and the base is 3” diameter. The piece is in excellent condition – as is true in 90 percent of the Hirado pieces with these intricate multi-petal chrysanthemums, there are quite a few petals that are broken or that have been chipped off – four of the six have almost totally intact flowers. There is a 1” long horizontal firing flaw 3” up from the base on one side. The vase is not signed. We date it to the Golden Age of Hirado – late Meiji, circa 1875 – 1890s.
Louis Lawrence, in his book "Hirado, Prince of Porcelain", accurately summed up why this Japanese porcelain is widely regarded as the finest to ever come out of Japan - it is a true world class ceramic made of the finest clay from Amakusa Island. Hirado is characterized by the extreme smoothness of the clay and its ability to adapt to very unusual shapes because of its malleability and resistance to running in the firing process.
The pride of Sasebo, Mikawachi Pottery has a history that goes back almost 400 years and is designated as Japan's traditional work of art. At the end of the 16th century, the 26th Lord Hirado, Shigenobu Matsuura brought home potters including Koseki from the Korean Peninsula. However, since it was not possible to obtain the soil suitable for white porcelain in Hirado, Koseki and his son Sannojo Imamura traveled in search of the porcelain stone for producing quality porcelain clay, and Mikawachi was the place where they settled down. As luxury items for gifts continued to be produced by Mikawachi Pottery as the Hirado Clan's favorite potter since then, its sophisticated molding and glazing techniques were developed.