Jul 26, 2009 8:10 AM
The Imari Centerpiece Bowl ($198) is a spectacular homage to Imari Porcelain, a Japanese style of striking decorative wares popular from 1690-1740. Named for the export port famous to Dutch merchants, Imari pieces were born and created in a nearby town called Arita, and were produced there exclusively before being knocked off in China, thereby changing the course of history for European porcelain. We're lured in by the vivid blues, reds and golds that build a dense organic pattern against a white background, a visual recipe originally designed to attract the ostentatious and bold European taste.
To quench our growing interest we perused the Victoria and Albert Museum, home to a diverse assortment of Imari pieces among an impressive collection of Japanese porcelain styles. Although Imari portrays an international aesthetic, it in itself was symbol of Japanese Imperialism during a time of expansion... the Korean glazing technique used in Imari porcelain illustrates this point beautifully. Need more proof? Chrysanthemums, the symbol of the Japanese Imperial crest, are a leit motif in this colorful style. So there's a dark side to beauty? (We could've called that).
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