Diameter: 6.200 inches
Gift of A.D. Brankston
Asia OA 1938.7-12.1
Room 33: Asia
Stemcup with sea creatures
From Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, southern
Ming dynasty, Xuande period (AD 1426-35)
Dragons and other creatures frolicking in the waves
The short reign of Emperor Xuande (1426-35) was
very significant for Chinese ceramics: copper red wares reached
heights which have never been surpassed, while
Stem cups like this were used in Buddhist ceremonies and as wine bowls. This example shows dragons and other sea creatures playing among the waves. The sea creatures were reserved, that is, the background was painted with blue, and the area with the creatures was left white. The piece was then glazed and fired in the usual way. This is a relatively simple but very effective technique.
The regular use of the emperor's reign mark denoted a new status for ceramics. This first appeared, though rarely, under the Yongle emperor (reigned 1403-24). The mark on this cup is centred on the inside of the bowl.
J. Harrison-Hall, Ming ceramics (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)
S.J. Vainker, Chinese pottery and porcelain, (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)