24 February 2023

What is Akae-Saibyo "Iidaya" style?

Akae-saibyo–red dots and lines with intricate detalization–has an eye-catching, detailed beauty. The artful charm of fine Akae style, with its superb, inimitable technique, is known as the Iidaya style. The microscopic world of thousands of red dot and line patterns create a sense of perspective, and is truly the culmination of craftsmanship.

  • Akae-Saibyo
  • Miyamoto Kiln (1832-1859)
  • Iidaya Hachiouemon
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This Akae-saibyo (fine red painting) is made by drawing a number of lines a few millimeters apart to bring out the pattern. When you look closely, what appears to be painted in pale red is actually a collection of fine lines–simply amazing the viewer. The lines are as fine as a hair. With a single brushstroke, three to four lines are drawn within a one millimeter space. In some cases, five lines are drawn within the space. Akae-saibyo is truly a technique that requires a high level of skill and concentration.

Photos by KUTANism

In particular, Iidaya style is mostly painted with red pigments and a small amount of green pigments are added for coloring. In addition, very precise patterns are painted in the margins as well as in the drawings.

Akae-saibyo is made by mixing a red pigment called bengara (red earth pigment), which contains iron, and a collagen-like substance called Akifu with water. Bengara has rough particles, making the brush stroke resistant. This results in the inability to draw fine lines. Therefore, the artist carefully and painstakingly spends time rubbing it to make the bengara particles finer and finer to produce the pigment. Also, among the five colors of Kutani (green, yellow, purple, navy blue, and red), only red is said to be able to produce exceptionally fine lines. Red does not have the thickness of the other four colors, nor does it turn glassy. Therefore, it is possible to draw thin and beautiful lines.

Miyamoto Kiln (1832-59)

The Yoshidaya kiln was closed down in 1831, and Miyamotoya Uemon, who was originally the manager of the Yoshidaya kiln, purchased and reestablished the Miyamoto kiln in 1832. The kiln's main craftsman was Iidaya Hachirouemon, who devoted himself mainly to painting and produced many excellent works in the Akae style, which is why the Akae style produced at this kiln is called the Iidaya style.

Akae bowl made by Miyamoto Kiln

Iidaya Hachirouemon

Iidaya Hachirouemon was originally a dyer, but he showed excellent skills in detailed depictions. Since this was the period when literati painting was at its peak, the subject matter centered around Chinese artifacts, and many of them were in line with cultural tastes, which were expressed with even greater effect through the use of Akae style. The kiln was soon closed due to the deaths of Miyamotoya Uemon in 1845 and Hachiroemon in 1852 at the age of 48. The kiln lost its leading figures, but the Akae-Saibyo was later inherited by Eiraku Wazen of Kutani Hongama kiln.

More to Learn about the History of Kutani ware

More to Learn about the History of Kutani ware

Akae-style items add a sense of luxury to everyday dining. Please visit our website for Akae-style items.

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