Edo period, 18th-19th century AD
The most distinguished porcelain was made at ōkawachi near Arita for the sole use of the governing Nabeshima clan. Nabeshima ware broke with the Chinese-inspired tradition, using only Japanese motifs in a bold and striking way. On this piece the three jars appear to be floating clear of the stylized waves. They may symbolize respectively cracked ice indicating old age, white indicating innocence and plum blossom representing the fragrance of youth.
The designs of Nabeshima ware are often reminiscent of textile patterns of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)