Human subjects are rare; some have been given titles such as the Woman and the Nightingale and Hob in the Well, a title given by 18th century England! This decoration was based on a popular design derived from the story of a Chinese sage saving his friend who had fallen into a large fishbowl. Kakiemon soon became the most prized and certainly the most expensive porcelain in Europe, becoming de rigueur in the princely palaces of Northern Europe, and despite the price, was the style most sought after by the rich and famous!
The sleeping dragon, however, was waking, and Chinas chaos had subsided with the establishment of the Manchu dynasty and the long and productive reign of the Kang Xi Emperor.
The Kakiemon family remains porcelain makers and skilled decorators right up to today with only the eldest son inheriting the family name and special skills. It would be thirty years later that the production of export porcelain would resume.
Kakiemons color range is small, but distinctive, delicate, balanced and in perfect harmony.
It was from the natural world that Sakaida Kizaemon produced his iron red by capturing the delicate red color and texture of the persimmon, (kaki), on porcelain. Kakiemon wares are usually painted with natural subjects such as birds in branches, flying squirrels, the quail and millet, grasshoppers, moths and garden insects. The chrysanthemum, the national flower of Japan, is a very common subject.
When production stopped, the merchant fleet turned to Japan. The Dutch merchant fleet was the only Western nation allowed to trade there and had their trading port on Deshima Island, in Nagasaki Harbour.Kakiemon, pronounced, Kak i eh mon, is all about balance, a small range of distinctive colors, known as the palette, pure white porcelain and a perfect eye for harmony. The palette composed of iron red, cerulean blue, turquoise green, yellow, aubergine and gold, however, it is the iron red aspect of the palette from which our story unfolds
The setting is 16th century Japan, the year 1596 and the founding father of the celebrated dynastic family of Japanese potters, Sakaida Kizaemon, (1596 1666), is born.
Japanese art, with its long history, has always drawn its inspiration from the world of nature, with each changing season offering a new range of colors and ideas.
The arrival of the new Japanese porcelain was a revelation, as very little colored porcelain had been seen, with most of the Chinese export having been blue and white wares.
An iron brown dressing, (fuchi beni), which was applied to the edges of many Kakiemon porcelains to embellish and protect thrust pad the rims from being chipped. The great kilns at Jingdezhen were reopened and the thriving business of export porcelain to the West commenced.
In fact, the production of Japanese porcelain had only a half a centurys history before the Dutch East Indiamen arrived and it was not long before the Dutch trading fleet, laden with Japanese porcelain, was heading for Holland. The dynasty completely collapsed in 1644 and the production of export porcelain to the West came to a halt