Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Room 37 | Japan 1600-1850 gallery

Discover the arts of the Edo period (1600-1868) from porcelain to lacquer to painting.

Japan 1600-1850 gallery

Japanese art for export

By the mid-1600s, European and Chinese merchants based in Japan were exporting porcelain and lacquer to the West and Southeast Asia. These export wares were made specifically to the taste of foreign customers. Japanese potters often copied shapes and designs that had been sent from Europe.

Along with Chinese porcelain, Japanese porcelain and lacquer became the height of fashion in Europe, where the secret of making porcelain had not yet been discovered. These precious wares, often lumped together as ‘Indian wares’, were prized by wealthy collectors, who displayed them in their grand houses.

As Daniel Defoe describes, these porcelain displays were often elaborate arrangements of many individual pieces:

‘…the Custom…of furnishing houses with China-Ware…piling their China upon the Tops of Cabinets, Scrutoires and every Chymney-Piece,to the Tops of the Ceilings…’

(Daniel Defoe, A Tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain, 1724-26)


Objects may have since been removed or replaced from a gallery. Click into an individual object record to confirm whether or not an object is currently on display. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis, so contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular Eastern Art object.

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum