Height: 11.800 cm
Diameter: 11.000 cm (caddies)
Gift of Sir A.W. Franks
Asia OA F.1688
Room 33: Asia
Pewter box with porcelain tea caddies
Qing dynasty, about AD 1760-1800
For transporting samples in the tea trade
The pewter box and flat cover are made in the shape of a prunus (plum) blossom. A five-lobed porcelain tea caddy and five fan-shaped ones are neatly fitted inside.
The tea caddies are
Although the tea trade was very important to European merchants in China, this is the only known box of its type. The pewter container kept the porcelain tea caddies safe during transport and also helped keep the tea leaves dry and aromatic. Wooden chests used for shipping tea were lined with a tin and lead alloy for the same purpose.
R. Krahl and J. Harrison-Hall, Ancient Chinese trade ceramics (National Museum of History, ROC, 1994)
S.J. Vainker, Chinese pottery and porcelain, (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)
Y. Mino, Freedom of clay and brush thro (Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1980)