Pair of Japanese Arita blue and white baluster jars and covers, Edo Period (1603-1868), 17th century, decorated in rich cobalt with hoho birds in a fenced rocky garden amongst blooming chrysanthemum and peony, the shoulders with intricate ruyi-shaped panels containing lotus and peacock design against a karakusa scrolling ground, the rims with six rectangular panels containing flowers and precious objects including a scroll and artemisia leaf, the lids similarly decorated with large ruyi head panels with flowers and peacock design, the knops with peony and miniature hoho bird.
Height: 83cm.(32 5/8in.) approximate width: 43cm. (16 7/8in.)
One vase has restoration to the rim the other has a tiny hair-line on the foot rim; one lid has restoration to the rim and the other lid has a faint 'hair-line' crack
The 17th century was a period of great change for the Asian ceramic trade, with the fall of the Ming and technological developments in Japan ending China’s monopoly on production and distribution. Following the successful production of initial, experimental pieces in Hizen Province in around 1620, Japanese porcelain manufacture in and around Arita rapidly expanded. By the mid-17th century, Japan had replaced China as the main producer of export ceramics in Asia, selling almost as much in the three years from 1658-1661 as China had in the nine years of trade between 1645-61 for which records are extant. Garniture sets and large jars such as this pair were particularly popular in Europe, and frequently incorporated Japanse symbolism in their design. The hoho bird, for example, is a lucky omen symbolising good fortune, longevity and wisdom.