Imari Plates

An Imari plate has a very interesting history and is highly desired by porcelain collectors around the world. This pottery was first made in Japan in the town of Arita and exported from the port of Imari. It was made from white kaolin clay discovered in Japan around the early 1600s. As wares were exported from Imari it became very popular in Europe during the 19th century especially with 'the royals'.

The original imari ware was blue and iron red on a white background with a rough-textured unglazed base. In the Sometsakae method, pieces were first glazed then color was added over the glaze. The word 'akae' means 'colored ware'. Decorations were originally pine, bamboo, plums and other fruits, trees and flowers popular in the Japanese culture. When imari became popular in European markets more colors such as yellow, green and purple were added.

Several shapes for the imari plate range from hexagon, octagon, rectangle and rhombus in from 4 to 10” diameter. The first mass imari plate order was by the Dutch East India Company around 1656. During the 18th century the Chinese copied and produced a similar style of Japanese porcelain ware.

There are several cautions for the collector of Imari ware. Original pieces were never marked with 'Imari' on the base. Real imari had no markings except for ceremonial wedding ware marked with the Japanese symbols for crane and turtle symbolic of long life and happiness. Most valued pieces are those made prior to the 20th century.

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