Arita – Japan, November 1 to December 9, 1997, Prof. Abu Ridho was sincerely invited by the Kyushu Ceramics Museum in celebrating Museum’s 10th anniversary of establishment. Greeted by Mr. Takeyoshi Tanaka, the director of Kyushu Ceramics Museum, Mr. Abu Ridho was requested as a speaker to present his papers on “Heizen Wares Found in Indonesia.” He also exhibited the artifacts to elaborate how to ascertain their authenticity based on physically their respective characteristics, designs, styles and history.
Hizen porcelains (肥前焼 Hizen-yaki) or so-called Old Imari wares, were the first porcelains produced by Japan in early 17th century. Initially, they were produced for local use, and the production was developed rapidly in Japan. In forty years later, in 1650s, Hizen wares were then exported to abroad that compensated the shortage of porcelains from China. Technology steadily evolved to develop more innovative and productive technique in the production of Hizen porcelains in Japan. In addition to enhancing the quality of products, the ability to create the at a higher rate had been discovered. A large amount of orders was placed by East India Company (Dutch: Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie; VOC) to meet Southeast Asia and Europe countries’ demands. Hizen porcelains were the Japan’s largest industrial arts for export in Edo period between 1603 to 1868 in the history of Japan.
The export of Hizen wares were highly prosperous in the late 17th century, and remarkably declined with the sluggish financial and collapse of the Dutch East India Company in 1799. According to the record, the company’s export trade ceased from 1735 to 1757, although individual members of the trading officials continued to trade small quantities as a sideline business. An archive in The Kyushu Ceramics Museum shows that the total amount of exported Hizen porcelains during 17th century was more than 3,700,000 pieces. However, it remains exactly unknown what kinds of products were exported, and what parts of the world they were taken to. The history of Hizen porcelains in Europe also can be traced back in details. Many of the Hizen porcelain handed down in Europe have been introduced in Japan. On the other hand, they are also found and known in Indonesia, where Dutch East India Company had its central office for Asia trading.
Based on Abu Ridho’s excavation and research on Heizen porcelains found Indonesia in 1980, we could make it clear that the important Hizen porcelains had been exported to Indonesia. His research also discloses the important history of cultural exchange between Japan and Southeast Asian Countries, particularly Indonesia. For example, in 1653, the total amount 2,200 medicine jars were exported to meet an order by a pharmaceutical merchant in Batavia (Jakarta). Based on the record preserved in the Hague National Library, it testifies that the regular trade of fine Hizen porcelains began in 1660. In addition, between 1663 – 1672, the great quantity of Japanese porcelains was exported and shipped to overseas patrons. Most of the exported wares were decorated in cobalt blue designs on dishes, cups, jars, lidded butter dishes, and incense burner forms. Subsequently, Hizen porcelains were widely used in European households, such as cups, oil jars, bottles, and bowls, which were exported and shipped by East India Company (Dutch: Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie; VOC).
When presentation was over, Mr. Takeyoshi Tanaka guided Mr. Abu Ridho to inspect and evaluate the artifacts preserved by the museum. The museum displayed several artifacts of a mix of several styles and periods. It is dedicated to showcasing exhibits based on a history or interest. The museum aims to educate people of a certain topic with cultural activities. For Abu Ridho, “The present cultural art is a result of the past, while the future depends entirely on the choices.”
EVENT: The Exhibition Hizen Wares Abroad: Requested to Submit Paper and as A Speaker.
DATE: November 1 to December 9, 1997.
PARTICIPANTS: Archaeologists and Museum Curators from Japan and Abroad.
HOSTED: The Kyushu Ceramics Museum
VENUE: The Kyushu Ceramics Museum Arita town, Japan