Japanese Art in the Asia Society Collection

Asia Society

Nabeshima Dish
Saga Prefecture
Edo period, 17th century
Porcelain painted with underglaze cobalt blue with iron-brown and green glazes (Arita ware, Nabeshima type)

Nabeshima Ware: A Class of Its Own

Nabeshima wares are among the finest and most valued products of the Arita kilns. The kilns made many types of wares for domestic and export markets, but the Nabeshima wares were produced exclusively for the warrior Nabeshima family. These wares were presentation pieces and only small quantities were produced, usually plates of three sizes made in small sets of twenty or thirty pieces. The shape of Nabeshima dishes is derived from traditional lacquered wooden bowls. The technical perfection of Nabeshima wares stands in striking contrast to the aesthetic of imperfection embodied by tea ceremony wares.