Other, Incense Holder, Dragonware, Japanese

Dragonware. Porcelain Japanese Incense Holder. The art depicted on this piece is "Moriage" in which raised white designs are applied to the ware with a type of slip clay that resembles cake icing. This piece measures 3 3/4" tall, 3 1/4" wide (handle to handle). Foil label on bottom reads "MEI Japan".

A History of Dragonware

The term Dragonware is used to describe porcelain or pottery items with raised decorations that depict an Oriental dragons entwining about it. Because of its elaborate design these dragonware pieces that come to appraisal shops often have fantastic family tales that come with them. Such stories are often of former owners being Japanese Warlords, long lost Seafaring Great- Great uncles or that they were gifts to the family from some Captain of industry to a loyal employee 100 years ago.

The real stories behind them are not near as epic, most were brought home by Troops occuping Japan after World War Two, or businessmen working in the Far East during the 1920`s to 50`s, as Dragonware was a made for export item in Japan, produced mainly during that same period. Ideas of great age are sometimes a misconception because of a lack of company markings. The lack of a marking on pottery is generally considered one of the marks of antiquity, but the lack of a marking on Dragonware simply means it originally had a foil or paper label that was removed or has fallen off during the first washing in warm soapy water.

The majority of Dragonware pieces are decorated with cake icing like glaze called “Moriage,” which is a type of slip clay applied much like the cake decorating it resembles. Dragonware tends to use this form of decoration quite heavily, along with high reliefs of serpent like dragons that twinges around the circumferenace of pottery, the dragon’s sometimes being part of a teapots spout. Quality ranges a great deal on Dragonware, in some cases the dragons looking ready to fly off, being over three-quarters of an inch above the surface.