An Unusual Kosometsuke Dish with the Eight Immortals
Diameter: 29.8 cm. (11 3/4 in.)
Height: 5.1 cm. (2 in.)
Late Ming dynasty
Early 17th century
The two Yuan-dynasty figures, anticipating the future, express as clearly as any words might convey the disdain felt by the Chinese toward the porcelain produced at their own kilns during the early-17th century for clients in Japan. One figure literally laughs at the piece, while the other cannot even be bothered to look at it. We, however, being of a different inclination, and trained well by our Japanese mentors, have come to fully appreciate and celebrate the technical imperfections, awkwardness, and glib artistry of this distinctive category of Chinese porcelains. While a number of individuals in the west—Julia Curtis, Stephen Little, Richard and Stuart Marchant—have long been advocates of these wares and we have handled a good number of them, we were nevertheless stunned when walking past a small shop in Tokyo, stopped in our tracks by this un-ordinary, extraordinary piece in the window. The proprietor seemed surprised by our great excitement, but we were in the presence of a Japanese gentleman who would in no way take advantage of our unabashed zeal and we are thus able to have this intriguing piece in our stable of wares today.