A selection of ceramics through the ages (5 second delay) Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology The Collections:
PotWeb: Ceramics online
@ the Ashmolean Museum
Early Europe & Near East
Classical to Medieval
Europe from 1500
Oriental & Islamic

Japanese Export Porcelain in the Ashmolean Museum

The Background to Japanese Export Porcelain

Noborigama kiln
An Oriental type of climbing chamber kiln built on an incline so that the heated gases from the lower chambers passes through and heats the upper chambers thus increasing the efficiency of the use of fuel. As the lower chamber reaches the target temperature, the temperature of the next chamber up is boosted to its target by further firing in its own firebox.
Muffle kiln
A small kiln enclosing a permanent container made of refractory material in which ceramic objects can be heated to moderate temperatures through radiation and conduction of heat and protected from flame, flyash and corrosive gases. These kilns are often used to fire enamel and lustre ware.
Imari (1)
The name of the port on the northwestern tip of Kyushu Island, close to Arita, from where the porcelain produce was shipped to other parts of Japan and to the port of Nagasaki for onward distribution by the Dutch and the Chinese.
Imari (2)
A category of enamelware developed for the Japanese export trade with a variety of types.


  • The enamel could be painted on objects with and without underglaze blue.
  • The decoration usually covered a large area of the surface.
  • The palettes often used a characteristic red and gold.
  • After 1700 many Imari wares showed a pinkish blush.
  • As well as the usual flower and animal designs, one sees patterns taken from textiles.
So popular were the Imari wares that the Chinese potters later copied the style and it was also imitated in European ceramic design.
Kakiemon (1)
The name of a particular kiln site at Nangawara in S.W. Arita where porcelain pots were fired and decorated in the Kakiemon palettes. Only shards of open shaped vessels are found at this site so closed shapes with Kakiemon enamels were produced elsewhere. It is likely that this kiln was not founded until 1670.
Kakiemon (2)
The name of the head of the Sakaida family who own the kilns at Nangawara.
Kakiemon (3)
The name given to a category of enamelware made mainly for the export market.


  • Sparse decoration in cobalt blue with or without enamel decoration.
  • Well-placed, pictorial painting of flowers, birds and landscape with delicate brushwork.
  • Mostly rounded shapes although polygonal and irregular shapes known.
  • Some have a very fine, white porcelain (nigoshide) body and were reserved for decoration with enamels alone, without underglaze blue.
  • Generally the body is white with a good clear glaze.
Classification on Porcelain Background

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