Japanese kabuki plays that feature stories about everyday people are known as Sewamono. A visitor to Japan in the early 20th century wrote of seeing one of these plays, in which an old master potter (a true artist) is determined to achieve a new glaze colour, for which he sacrifices his strength, his money, and even his daughter’s happiness in its pursuit. But again and again he fails. Eventually, he runs out of fuel for his kiln and when the fire begins to die, the despairing old man opens the kiln door. He discovers a miracle: the chance combination of time and chemistry has produced the colour he has dreamed of–the bright persimmon hue that today is seen on old Imari ceramics. It’s hard to imagine that such a story would captivate an audience, but she swears it did. They must have been all ceramic enthusiasts!!

“This magnificent Japanese dish is based on earlier seventeenth-century Chinese examples, decorated in underglaze blue, which were exported around the world. In addition it uses enamelling in the combination of colours which came to be known as ‘old Japan‘, and later, Imari.” – British Museum

A 1710-1730 Imari-style pitcher made in Mid-Eastern style, made in Jingdezhen – Tokyo National Museum