A barbed Arita dish, Japanese, late 17th Century.

The centre of the dish is painted in underglaze blue with a design composed of two shikishi, the squares of special paper used in Japan for painting and calligraphy.

The uppermost square, folded at one corner, depicts a beaker containing prunus blossom on a low table, all of which would once have been outlined in silver, which has now oxidised.

Traces of a wine vessel and decorative elements, presumably executed in gold, are to be seen in a strong raking light.

The design is based on a scholar’s table and is evocative of gentlemanly refinement.

The border is moulded with stylised characters enclosed in cartouches.

Three spur marks on the base show where the dish rested on its sagger during firing, 21.4cm in diameter.


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