Porcelain figure of a carouser astride a barrel

From Arita, Kyūshū, Japan
Edo period, late 17th century AD

The first Japanese porcelain was made in the early decades of the seventeenth century at Arita in Kyūshū by immigrant Korean potters who brought the necessary technology with them. By the second half of the century Japan had taken over much of the Chinese export market for porcelain (while China itself was in confusion with the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644). Japanese contacts with the outside world were limited by law during most of the Edo period (1600-1868): trade was conducted through Dutch and Chinese trading posts in Nagasaki harbour. Porcelain wares for Europe were sometimes produced to specifications provided by the Dutch merchants.

This figure of a European sitting drinking on a beer barrel is based on a Dutch faience original. Versions exist also with colour enamelling.

Find in the collection online

More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Height: 36.500 cm

Museum number

Asia JA 1927.11-14.1


Gift of Lt.-Col. Dingwall DSO through the National Art Collections Fund


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore