A Small 19th Century Japanese Blue and White Porcelain Dish, Arita Kilns, Probably Shida kiln, c.1820-1840. Decorated with a Spiny Lobster and Stylised Two Rice Boxes. The Border and the Rice Boxes have Sumihajiki Decoration. The Front of the Dish was Prepared with a White Slip Prior to Painting, that Hid the Rather Inferior Quality Body.
In perfect condition.
Diameter : 16.5 cm (6 1/2 inches)
For a dish of this design (undated and without any reference to the design being used as a rebus) see : Japanese Traditional Patterns, Volume 1 ; Plants, Animals, Natural Phenomena (Motoji Niwa 1990) page 101, plate 2.
This dish was probably produced at the Shida kiln in Arita, it was made for the Japanese domestic market. It has been suggested this design might be a rebus and the mon for the famous Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo V, who was described as having the eye balls of a fresh Lobster from his characteristic wide eyed acting performances. The design contains a rebus on his adopted name Ebizo, Ebi, a shrimp or lobster, and the three square rice boxes or measures, are representations of the Ichikawa families “Mimasu” mon. The dish is of scalloped rim form, kikugata, and as is typical of the Shida kiln it has a lighter white coloured slip applied to the front of the dish, as evidenced by the trails of white. slip to the reverse of the dish. There are three spurs in a triangular formation supporting the centre of the underside of the dish.
This type of ceramic decoration appears in Japan just after the middle of the 17th century, although its origins are much earlier. The effect created is that of painted white lines cutting through blue, this is achieved using a wax resist type paint called `sumi` which protects the white porcelain from the cobalt blue over-painting. The `sumi` is burnt off during the firing to leaving white lines to contrast against the blue.