This study was carried out in an attempt to resolve the issue of the introduction of overglaze enameling in Japan through non-destructive analysis of the overglaze enamels that decorate the only known polychrome mukozuke dish (to be used in the tea ceremony) bearing the early Japanese date mark ‘Kan'ei Nen Sei’ (made in the Kan'ei period) (1624–1644). The investigation focused specifically on the overglaze yellow enamel and the underglaze blue pigment, for they could provide valuable information on the production workshop and geographical area of origin. Owing to the extraordinary importance and extreme rarity of this newly-discovered dish, it was mandatory not to sample it. Therefore, Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (ED-XRF) and Raman spectroscopy were used to obtain, in a non-destructive way, both elemental and molecular information about the coloring agent present in the yellow overglaze enamel. The underglaze-blue pigment at the base mark was also investigated. Besides a detailed literature research, a comparison was made with the chemical composition of fully identified and dated polychrome decorated Chinese and Japanese porcelains, and the results are reported in this work. The obtained analytical evidence has proved to be crucial in identifying the first use of Naples Yellow in Japan, and in resolving the issue of the origin of overglaze enameling, providing the missing step that actually led to the first development of the technique in Arita in the 1630s. Furthermore, it has shown that the Raman shift of the Pb mode of the A2O’ lattice is greatly affected by the firing temperature for enamel decoration, and that this specific characteristic of Naples Yellow, along with its elemental composition, can help determine its area of origin and period of manufacture.
Montanari, R., Alberghina, M.F., Municchia, A.C., Massa, E., Pelagotti, A., Pelosi, C., et al. (2018). A polychrome Mukozuke (1624–1644) porcelain offers a new hypothesis on the introduction of European enameling technology in Japan. JOURNAL OF CULTURAL HERITAGE, 32, 232-237 [10.1016/j.culher.2017.12.010].