Nabeshima Shaku-Zara Dish for Japanese Art Auction

lot 366 at Bonhams next sale of Fine Japanese Art on May 11th, is a superb decorated dish also estimated to sell for £100,000 to £150,000.

This is a fine and rare Nabeshima shaku-zara, a large dish, circa 1690-1760, decorated with strange images which represent Buddhist symbols of precious emblems comprising the ribboned ‘bag of plenty’, hat of invisibility, flywhisk, sword, pair of books, castanets, fan, sho organ, pair of scrolls and tama (jewel), popular motifs in Japanese art.

This masterpiece of Japanese 17th century design is thought to date from the earliest period of porcelain manufacture at the Okawachi kilns, patronized exclusively by the Nabeshima Daimyo family, their friends and retainers, although it was also produced for presentation gifts to the Tokugawa.

Nabeshima wares were made only for domestic consumption, and for presentation purposes rather than for actual use. They were not sold on the open market in the Edo period but was made in a limited number, with specific patterns, and in standardized shapes. The dishes were produced in three basic sizes, the two smaller ones in sets of twenty or thirty, with a single large serving dish (of which fewer survive) to match.