An image of Kendi

Arita ware

(Japan  – )


Other titles:
Imari ware kendi, Kendi with design of landscape
Not on display
Further information

The 'kendi', a drinking water vessel with a spout but no handle, is a form distinct to Southeast Asia, where it has a long history. The name is thought to derive originally from the Sanskrit word 'kundika' meaning a water vessel, and was an attribute of Hindu and Buddhist deities. Made in China as early as the Yuan dynasty, it was also known as a 'gorgolet' (from the Portuguese 'gorgoletta'). The main markets were Indonesia and Malaysia, and Chinese, Japanese and Thai potteries catered to this market, as well as local potteries. The shape became popular in Europe in the 1600s, as evidenced by its frequent appearance in 17th-century Dutch still life paintings.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.138.

Arita ware or Imari ware?

Arita ware (porcelain made around the Arita region) is commonly referred to as 'Imari ware' both in Japan and overseas because porcelain products from the region were transported to domestic and overseas markets through the port of Imari, approximately 15km north of Arita. For the sake of consistency, all porcelain works produced during the Edo period in the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection are catalogued according to the production site, e.g. Arita ware and Hasami ware.

Imari itself was home to the Nabeshima ware, exclusively produced at the Ôkawachi kilns for official use of the ruling Nabeshima clan. With the establishment of the Meiji government in 1868 the independent fiefs of the Edo period were replaced by prefectures in 1871, and the Ôkawachi kilns entered the free market. The term 'Imari ware' (or Ôkawachi ware) now applies to works produced in Imari from 1871 to the present.

Place of origin
Arita, Japan
Japan: Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615–1868
circa 1660-1685
porcelain with underglaze blue decoration
8.5 cm diam. of rim; 20.6 x 18.1 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of Leslie Pockley 1986
Accession number