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Longquan ware vase with Daoist immortals


Height: 23.200 cm

Asia OA 1936.10-12.83

Room 33: Asia

    Longquan ware vase with Daoist immortals

    From Zhejiang province, south-eastern China
    14th century AD

    An octagonal celadon meiping (prunus blossom vase)

    Longquan was a market town in Zhejiang province. These green wares were produced at a great many kilns in the area during the Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties (overall AD 960-1644). While Longquan wares were particularly valued in China for their jade-like colour and texture, they were also exported in great quantities. In the Near and Middle East, large Longquan ware dishes were used for communal dining, and for testing food before a meal. It was believed that the greenware would react if poisoned food were placed on the dish.

    This vase has two distinct types of decoration. It is mostly covered with a crackled glaze, under which are recessed panels of floral designs. Around the middle of the body, however, are eight unglazed panels with moulded figures walking in clouds.

    Although the stoneware body is grey, it turns reddish when fired in the biscuit. To produce this effect, the potter moulded the panels as part of the vase. The panels were then covered with wax or grease, which resisted the glaze in these areas. The unglazed panels were then often gilded, though no trace of gilding remains on this vase.

    M. Medley, The Chinese potter: a practica (Phaidon Press Limited, 1989)

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