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moon-flask

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1968,0422.32

  • Description

    Porcelain Bian hu moon flask with underglaze blue decoration, cut-down neck and ground-down base. This bian hu moon-shaped flask has a flattened round body. It was made in two vertical halves and joined together. Its tubular neck is narrow and has been cut down and pierced through. On either side are bracket-shaped handles which are also pierced at the top. Its oval base is flat and has been ground smooth. A blooming and budding peony scroll with leafy foliage is painted over the flask with a border of overlapping lotus petals around the foot and a lappet collar around the base of the neck. Lingzhi adorn the handles and tubular neck.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1403-1435
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Depth: 10 centimetres
    • Width: 19.5 centimetres
    • Height: 22 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Comment

        Aurangzeb, or Alanigir Sha.
      • Inscription Type

        mark
      • Inscription Comment

        Hirja date 1070, or 1659-1660 AD.
  • Curator's comments

    Harrison-Hall 2001:
    This flask was made in the early fifteenth century in either the Yongle or Xuande era. A bian hu flask of the same form with decoration of camellia branches was unearthed from the Yongle stratum at Dongmentou, Zhushan, Jingdezhen, in 1994. Heavily executed peony designs of this type are known from Xuande mark and period excavated ceramics such as the xishuaiguan [cricket cage] excavated at Zhushan, Jingdezhen, in 1993.
    The ownership of this moon flask, unlike that of many porcelains in the British Museum, can be traced back 350 years. Towards the bottom of the moon flask on one side is an engraved collector's mark, coloured in red. This is the name of the Mughal emperor and munificent patron of the arts, 'Alamgir (Awrangzib) (reigned 1658-1707), together with the Hijra date 1070 (ad 1659-60), the second year of his reign. The flask may have reached the Mughal court through trade or as a diplomatic gift. Chinese porcelains were favoured as Mughal court tablewares and are depicted in contemporary Mughal paintings. In 1910 this flask was displayed at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in London; it was owned at the time by Mrs W. S. Halsey who had acquired it in India.

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  • Bibliography

    • Harrison-Hall 2001 4:17 bibliographic details
    • Skelton et al 1982 403 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    2011 June - Sept , 'Gifts of the Sultans', LACMA
    2011 Oct - 2012 Jan , 'Gifts of the Sultans', Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    2012 Feb - June, 'Gifts of the Sultans', Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1968

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1968,0422.32

  • Additional IDs

    • D12 (Sedgwick number)
Porcelain Bian hu moon flask with flattened round body, narrow tubular neck, bracket-shaped handles and flat oval base; decorated in underglaze blue with a blooming and budding peony scroll with foliage; the foot with a border of overlapping lotus petals; the base of the neck with a lappet collar; and lingzhi on the handles and neck; the neck cut down and pierced throught; the handles pierced at the top; the base has been ground smooth.

Porcelain Bian hu moon flask with flattened round body, narrow tubular neck, bracket-shaped handles and flat oval base; decorated in underglaze blue with a blooming and budding peony scroll with foliage; the foot with a border of overlapping lotus petals; the base of the neck with a lappet collar; and lingzhi on the handles and neck; the neck cut down and pierced throught; the handles pierced at the top; the base has been ground smooth.

Image description

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