Rare Japanese Arita Map Dish
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Japanese Arita Map Dish
This fan shape is a rare design for a map dish and it is a relatively large example, width 42cm.
In Arita, map dishes were made in abundance from around the Tempo period (1830-1844) to the end of the Edo era (1615-1868). However, few examples appear to have survived. The maps show either the Kyushu region, Japan, or the whole world. There are no examples featuring a specific area or region of Japan other than Kyushu where Arita is located. The plates are varied in their shapes from circular to rectangular and also in sizes from small to large. One notable characteristic of this type is that, unlike Kutani ware examples, Arita ware map dishes are often, as in this instance, made using a press mould and have relief carving details with each region or country defined clearly by raised areas and with the county borders marked by incised lines. Other characteristics include the frequent use of wave patterns or in-fills around the landmass using gosu cobalt blue dotted with pictorial images such as flying cranes or sailing ships.
Most of the Japanese maps depicted on dishes follow the Gyōki zu style, which renders the archipelago in a rudimentary manner. Towards the end of the Edo era, geographical maps were drawn with a level of precision that are not too dissimilar from those more familiar to us today. However in the case of the porcelain map dishes visual appeal was given priority over accuracy.