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Banko Pottery

( Originally Published 1911 )

As early as 1680 a factory was established at a village near Tokio, and produced articles which resembled some of the Kutani wares, but towards the end of the eighteenth century a rich amateur, Gozayemon, who had previously acquired a great reputation as a copyist, was induced by the then Shogun to leave Ise and to continue his work in Tokio, where his productions became the fashion, partly because of their merits, partly owing to the difficulty experienced in securing them.

He now adopted the purely Japanese style, and combined with it the beauty of the Chinese glazes in different colours, and it was when he ceased to be an imitator and became an originator that he became an artist. He imitated every kind of ware, from coarse Korean pottery and the brilliant colours of China to the severe styles of Ninsei and Kenzam. His pieces were generally marked. He also made many imitations of Dutch delft.

After his death, the son of a dealer of Ise, into whose hands the formula of Gozayemone had fallen, assumed the name of Banko, after having bought the stamp from his grandson. He made a peculiar kind of stoneware, unglazed, in which the mould, made up of several sections, was placed inside the clay to be modelled. Hence, on the outside, the lines of the skin of the hand are shown, and the designs are as sharp, if not sharper, inside as outside the pottery, which from this method of working had to be very thin. He also decorated pieces with storks, dragons, &c., in relief and other pieces, with clever designs in coloured slips on a green or deep brown ground. This Ise Banko ware is nearly always stamped.

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