Castle Object of the Month: Baluster Imari Jars

January 01 2021 | Castle History

christmas rooms finished_0314 (210)

As soon as you enter the Castle you’re met by the Castle object of the month, the impressive Baluster Imari Jars. Imari is a style of porcelain named after the Japanese port from which it was shipped to the west in the late 17th century.

The Baluster Jars at Hever Castle are Kinrande Imari which is coloured porcelain with cobalt blue under glaze and a red and gold over glaze. The subject matter of Imari is diverse, ranging from foliage and flowers to people and scenery.

There’s still an element of mystery behind our own Baluster Jars though. The jars at Hever Castle date back to circa 1780, but it is uncertain whether they are of Japanese or Chinese heritage. 

By the early 18th century, China was flooding the export market with inexpensive Chinese Imari of its own. This sudden influx made the Japanese porcelain exceptionally costly in the West and so with the withdrawal of Japanese Imari from the western market, potteries in Germany and England, such as Meissen, Spode, Coalport and Derby started to produce their own variations.

It was not until the middle of the 19th century did the Japanese begin to export Imari again. Although their artisans revived the old pattern; the quality of work from this period was often not as high as what came before. 

Next time you enter the Castle, look over to the left, just before entering the Library where the BaIuster Imari Jars stand in all their splendour.