What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Collection online

Additional options
Production date to

Or search by

Searching...

moon-flask

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1947,0712.325

  • Description

    Porcelain bianhu moon flask with underglaze blue decoration. This bianhu moon or pilgrim flask has a circular body with a flat base, a narrow cylindrical neck which flares out towards the mouth and two arched side handles which join the neck to the body, terminating at each end with a curlicue. The base is concave and unglazed. It is Painted in underglaze blue with fruiting and flowering lychee branches on both sides. White-crested waves, unrestrained by a border are painted around the lower section of the flask; the collar has ruyi heads and a band of lotus lappets around the neck; the rim and handles are also ornamented.

    More 

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1403-1424
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 25 centimetres
    • Width: 22 centimetres
    • Depth: 12 centimetres
    • Weight: 1.25 kilograms
  • Curator's comments

    Harrison-Hall 2001:
    This high-quality flask is dated to the Yongle period by comparison to a similar example, decorated with camellias, excavated in 1994 from one of the Yongle stata at Dongmentou, Zhushan, Jingdezhen. The form is an adaptation of a much earlier foreign vessel. Leather bags or 'pilgrim bottles' inspired ceramic replicas in the Han and Tang periods. Such forms were also fashioned in glass in the Near East and the shape "was additionally made in low-fired ceramic in Syria.
    Lychee fruit trees are widely cultivated in south China but do not grow in the north because of the climate. The trees are evergreen and in spring bear tiny flowers which are visible here, shortly followed by the lumpy red-skinned fruits. Wine made from lychee fruit was drunk in southern China in the Ming period. This fact is mentioned in a speech by the attendant to the imperial commissioner, Miao Shunbin, in the popular romantic Ming play the Peony Pavilion, written in 1598. As this flask was made to present and to contain wine, it is possible that it held lychee wine. Lychee fruits are also an auspicious symbol, representing good wishes for the birth of a son.
    An identical blue-and-white example is in the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Harrison-Hall 2001 3:20 bibliographic details
    • Vainker 1991 p.216; fig.167 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2012 22 Jun-2013 6 Jan, Beijing, National Museum of China, 'Passion for Porcelain'
    2014 Sep-2015 Jan, BM WCEC, 'Ming: 50 years that changed China' PROMISED

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1947

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1947,0712.325

Porcelain Bianhu moon flask decorated in underglaze blue with fruiting and flowering lychee branches on both sides; white-crested waves around the lower section of the flask; the collar with ruyi heads and lotus lappets around the neck; the base concave and unglazed.

Porcelain Bianhu moon flask decorated in underglaze blue with fruiting and flowering lychee branches on both sides; white-crested waves around the lower section of the flask; the collar with ruyi heads and lotus lappets around the neck; the base concave and unglazed.

Image description

Recommend


Feedback

If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: RRC12768

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 

Supporters

Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...