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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.

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  • Description

    Porcelain flask of baoyue form. Two strap-handles attached to the shoulder. Underglaze blue with dense geometrical pattern with central star-shaped motif and numerous hexagonal and triangular panels. Cloud collars with flowers around mouth. Bands of tricorn patterns and detached flowers around foot. Unglazed base.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1403-1424
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 242 millimetres
    • Width: 198 millimetres
    • Depth: 102 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Published PDF date : Ming 15th centuryRoom 95 label text:

    PDF B696

    ‘Pilgrim’ flask with geometric design

    This flask is unusual in both its form and decoration. It has a round flattened body with a raised boss on either side, a splayed circular foot, two handles and a globular neck. The decoration is arranged in concentric bands, radiating out from a six-pointed star panel containing a lotus flower, encircled by its own foliage. The dense pattern of decoration is reminiscent of Middle Eastern inlaid metalwork. As well as producing objects following the shapes of Middle Eastern dining utensils for the overseas market, Jingdezhen craftsmen made objects inspired by Middle Eastern forms to fulfil court demand for foreign ‘exotica’. Later potters made copies of this type of vessel for the Yongzheng emperor (ruled AD 1723–35), as evidenced by an example in the Palace Museum, Beijing.

    Porcelain with underglaze cobalt-blue decoration
    Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province江西省, 景德鎮
    Ming dynasty, Yongle period, AD 1403–24


  • Bibliography

    • Krahl & Harrison-Hall 2009 p.57, no.27 bibliographic details
    • Medley 1976 p.72, no.B696 bibliographic details
    • Pierson 2004 p.98, no.B696 bibliographic details
    • Pierson 2004A pp 38-39, no.11 bibliographic details
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Object reference number: RRC39960

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