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Chenghua '100 children' bowl

 

Diameter: 21.900 cm

Given in memory of A.D. Brankston by A.W. Brankston and Mrs Winifred Roberts

Asia OA 1953.4-16.2

Room 33: Asia

    Chenghua '100 children' bowl

    From Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, southern China
    Ming dynasty, Chenghua period (AD 1465-87)

    Blue and white porcelain bowl with children playing in a garden

    The Chenghua emperor (reigned AD 1465-87) loved small, perfectly formed ceramic wares that he could hold in his hand. During his reign, a great many such pieces were produced for the imperial palace, particularly cups, small dishes and jars. This bowl is larger than most, but it shows the same fine potting, pure body and clear glaze which are typical of the period.

    The bowl is decorated in underglaze blue. The scene on the outside is a garden filled with children playing. This '100 children' motif is frequently seen on Chinese ceramics, paintings and textiles. Items decorated this way were given as gifts, wishing the recipient a large family. The children depicted are always boys, since in old China sons were heavily favoured over daughters.

    The inside of the bowl is plain except for two lines near the top. There is no reign mark on the piece, which is unusual. The mark of Chenghua was to become the most widely copied of all, because the wares were so highly valued.

    The most famous wares of the Chenghua reign are decorated with coloured enamels, in a style known as doucai.

    J. Harrison-Hall, Ming ceramics (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)

    S.J. Vainker, Chinese pottery and porcelain, (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

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