Diameter: 34.290 cm
Bequeathed by W.P.D. Stebbing
Asia JA 1961.12-12.5
Rooms 92-94: Japan
Arita ware porcelain dish
Edo period, 17th century AD
With the mark of the Dutch East India Company
This dish was commissioned by the United Dutch East India Company and bears their V.O.C. mark (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie).
From the end of the sixteenth century the Dutch East India Company developed a vast network of trading posts through South-east Asia. They monopolized European trade with Japan from about 1641, when, for political reasons, the Tokugawa Shogunate restricted foreign contacts by law. The Dutch 'factory' was on the tiny island of Deshima in Nagasaki Bay. The Chinese were the only other foreigners allowed to trade with Japan, but even their activities were restricted by political upheaval at home with the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644. The Dutch brought in mainly raw silk and sugar and took out gold, silver and copper. However as time went on demand also grew for Japanese porcelain.
This dish was for the use of the Company's officers in Japan. The commissioners also specified the Chinese-style design of auspicious peaches and the 'Buddha's fingers' plant. Judging from the great depth of the transparent glaze and the five spur marks on the base the dish was made between 1690 and 1700 at a time of great technological advance in porcelain manufacture.
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)