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Japanese CloisonnŽ
(Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum) Enlarge

History of Japanese Edo & Meiji Period CloisonnŽ and Ceramics

Chinese CloisonnŽ  | Japanese CloisonnŽ

Text & Images - Copyright © 2009 Kevin Hulsey

The process of inlayed enameling in Japan predates the Nara period (710 to 794), but became more widespread during the 1500s. This coincides with the advent of Chinese fired enamelware ("Blue of Jingtai") during the previous century. The Japanese cloisonnŽ enameling process was called shippo-yaki, meaning "seven precious things." The enamel paste used to create shippo cloisonnŽ was called doro shippo, or "paste enamel."

The "Golden Age" of Japanese CloisonnŽ production began in the late Edo period around 1808, and reached its zenith during the Meiji period from 1868 to 1912. During the the late Edo period, Japanese craftsman Tsunekichi Kaji developed a CloisonnŽ technique called "Yuusen-shippo" that used a delicate filigree wire made of brass, gold, or silver. The fine wire was glued rather than soldered to the base metal.

Japanese CloisonnŽ Vase - Kyoto Museum
Yasuyuki CloisonnŽ Ginger Jar from Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum (Photos by Yoichi Kimura)

The majority of these early Japanese CloisonnŽ objects were manufactured for export to Western countries, and the design motifs found in these pieces reflected to tastes of Western collectors who were interested in "Asian" art. The Chinese scroll motif known as karakusa, which depicted branches and leaves was popularized during this shippo-yaki period.

Owari CloisonnŽ from Shippo-cho

The shippo cloisonnŽ craft was centered around Tojima Village (now Shippo-cho), in Owari Province (now Aichi Prefecture) near Nagoya. One of the oldest known piece of Owari cloisonne is a sake cup from 1833 [7].

Early pioneers in Japanese Owari cloisonnŽ techniques were Nagoya/Owari craftsmen Kaji Tsunekichi (1808 to 1883), Hayashi Kodenji (1831 to 1915), Ando Jubei, and Kawade Shibataro. Both Ando and Kawade introduced the French art of PiquŽ-ˆ-jour cloisonnŽ into their creations.

Japanese Shippo CloisonnŽ Teapot
CloisonnŽ Teapot (Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum) - Enlarge

With the assistance of a German chemist named Gottfried von Wagner [6], the development of new methods for firing enamel provided the ability to create large fields of background color that were uninterrupted by multiple cell divisions.

By the late 1800s, the cloisonnŽ craft made its way to Kyoto, where a local craftsman named Namikawa Yasuyuki made improvements to the art-form. So-called Kyoto shippo is distinguished by the use of gilt wire.

One of the most significant developments in the art of Owari CloisonnŽ was made by Namikawa Sosuke (1847 to 1910) in 1879, when he developed a technique for creating totally wireless enamelware. The total elimination of wire enabled the artisan to create elaborate scenic designs that were not possible with wire.

Kyoto Satsuma Ware (Kyo-Satsuma) Ceramics

Satsuma ware is a brown clay porcelain that is fired at a lower temperature. Originally created during the 16th century by Korean craftsmen living on Kyushu Island (Kagoshima prefecture) in southern Japan, Satsuma-ware production moved to the Kyoto region (kyoyaki) and the local Kinkozan Gen'emon ceramicists during the Edo period.

Japanese CloisonnŽ Tea Bowl - Kyoto Museum
Kyo-Satsuma Ceramic Tea Bowl (Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum) - Enlarge

By the mid 1800s (Meiji Period), Kyo-Satsuma ware was a popular Japanese export, and ceramist Kinkozan Kobayashi became known for his polychrome overglaze enamels (iroe) produced at his Kagiya workshop in Kyoto.

Jiki Shippo Meiji Ceramic & Porcelain

Another of the major developments in the art of CloisonnŽ enameling during the Meiji period was the invention of jiki shippo porcelain cloisonnŽ. In jiki shippo (aka totai jippo or musen jippo) enamelware the enamel pigments are applied to ceramic pottery or a porcelain base instead of metal [3].

Japanese Porcelain CloisonnŽ
Ceramic Kyoto Satsuma Ware from Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum (Photos by Yoichi Kimura)

The process of applying filigree wire and fired enamel to ceramic pottery was developed by Tsukamoto Kaisuke in 1868. Kyoto Satsuma earthenware became a popular base material for totai jippo.

Bibliography & Suggestions for Further Study on CloisonnŽ

1. Oppi Untracht, Jewelry Concepts & Technology - Complete Reference Guide . Doubleday

2. Woodrow Carpenter, History of CloisonnŽ Technique . www.ganoksin.com

3. Gregory Irvine, Japanese CloisonnŽ Enamels . Victoria & Albert Museum

4. Takeuchi Chubei - Japanese CloisonnŽ on Porcelain

5. Tokyo National Museum, Japanese Porcelain .

6. Russell-Cotes Museum, Meiji Period Shippo CloisonnŽ . www.russell-cotes.bournemouth.gov.uk

7. Traditional Crafts of Japan, Owari CloisonnŽ from Aichi Prefecture . www.kougei.or.jp

8. Ando Cloisonne, Shippo CloisonnŽ from Ando . www.ando-shippo.co.jp

9. Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum, Meiji Period CloisonnŽ & Kyo-Satsuma . www.sannenzaka-museum.co.jp


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