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One of the David Vases

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    PDF,B.614

  • Title (object)

    • One of the David Vases
  • Description

    Large porcelain altar-vase of ancient bronze form. Two applied elephant head handles . Underglaze blue with scrolling four-clawed dragon, facing left with mouth open, in clouds around the main part. Band of scrolling peonies, overlapping plantain leaves and long inscription on upper part of neck, and phoenixes (one flying downwards) in clouds on lower part. Scrolling peonies on foot.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1351
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 63.8 centimetres
    • Diameter: 19.6 centimetres
    • Weight: 7.7 kilograms
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        on neck
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Content

        信州路。玉山縣。順城鄉。德教里。荊塘社。奉聖弟子。張文進。喜捨。香炉。花瓶。一付。祈保。合家清吉。子女平安。至正十一年。四月。良辰。謹記。星源。祖殿。胡淨一元帥。打供。
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Xinzhou lu. Yushan xian. Shuncheng xiang. Dejiao li Jingtang she. Fengheng dizi. Zhang Wenjin. Xishe xianglu huaping yifu. Qibao hejia qingji zinu ping'an Zhizheng shiyi nian siyue liangcheng jinji. Xingyuan zudian Hu Jingyo yuanshuai dagong
      • Inscription Translation

        Zhang Wenjin, from Jingtang community, Dejiao village, Shuncheng township, Yushan county, Xinzhou circuit, a disciple of the Holy Gods, is pleased to offer a set comprising one incense burner and a pair of flower vases to General Hu Jingyi at the Original Palace in Xingyuan, as a prayer for the protection and blessing of the whole family and for the peace of his sons and daughters. Carefully recorded in a good moment in the 4th month, 11th Year of the Zhizheng reign.
      • Inscription Comment

        B613 has a slightly different inscription
        This translation was made by Peter Y.K. Lam and is published in Orientations November/December 2009
  • Curator's comments

    Published PDF date : Yuan AD 1351Room 95 label text:

    PDF B614

    One of the ‘David Vases’


    These altar vases are the best-known porcelains in the world. Their importance lies in the dated inscriptions on one side of their necks above the bands of dragons. The long dedication is the earliest known on blue-and-white wares. It records that in AD 1351 a man named Zhang Wenjin from Yushan county 玉山縣 presented two vases and an incense burner (the whereabouts of which is unknown), to a Daoist temple in Xingyuan星源 (modern day Wuyuan county婺源縣). Yushan county is in northeast Jiangxi, which lies 120 km southeast of Jingdezhen, where these vases were made. This inscription demonstrates that blue-and-white porcelain production was already well-established at Jingdezhen by AD 1351. Originally the vases, modelled after bronzes, had porcelain rings attached through the elephant head shaped handles. The inscription reads 信州路。玉山縣。順城鄉。德教里。荊塘社。奉聖弟子。張文進。喜捨。香炉。花瓶。一付。祈保。合家清吉。子女平安。至正十一年。四月。良辰。謹記。星源。祖殿。胡淨一元帥。打供。['Zhang Wenjin, from Jingtang community, Dejiao village, Shuncheng township, Yushan county, Xinzhou circuit, a disciple of the Holy Gods, is pleased to offer a set comprising one incense burner and a pair of flower vases to General Hu Jingyi at the Original Palace in Xingyuan, as a prayer for the protection and blessing of the whole family and for the peace of his sons and daughters. Carefully recorded in a good moment in the 4th month, 11th Year of the Zhizheng reign'].


    Porcelain with underglaze cobalt-blue decoration
    Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province 江西省, 景德鎮
    Yuan dynasty, dated equivalent to AD1351

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  • Bibliography

    • Lam 2009 bibliographic details
    • Lam 2012 bibliographic details
    • MacGregor 2010 64 (part) bibliographic details
    • Medley 1975 Colour pl. 39 and p. 310 (Inscription p.276) bibliographic details
    • Pierson 2001 p. 66, pl. 61 (see B613) bibliographic details
    • Medley 1976 p.56, no.B614, pl.XI bibliographic details
    • Pierson 2002 p.58, no.38 (right) bibliographic details
    • Pierson 2004 p.79, no.B614 bibliographic details
    • Riddell 1979 p.85, no.62 (right) bibliographic details
    • Krahl & Harrison-Hall 2009 pp 52-53, no.24 bibliographic details
    • Scott 1989A pp 54-55, no.27 bibliographic details
    • Scott 1989B pp 66-67, no.55 (right) bibliographic details
  • Location

    G95/case1

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    18 Oct 2012 - 20 Jan 2013 'Splendours in Smalt', Shanghai Museum

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1927

  • Acquisition notes

    David acquired this vase in 1927, price unknown from Hon M.W. Elphinstone. Margaret Medley 1975 records: 'From the C. Russell and M. Elphinstone Collections.'

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    PDF,B.614

Large porcelain temple-vase of ancient bronze form. Two applied elephant head handles. Underglaze blue with scrolling four-clawed dragon in clouds around the main part. Band of scrolling peonies, overlapping plantain leaves and long inscription on upper part of neck, and phoenixes in clouds on lower part. Scrolling peonies on foot.

Large porcelain temple-vase of ancient bronze form. Two applied elephant head handles. Underglaze blue with scrolling four-clawed dragon in clouds around the main part. Band of scrolling peonies, overlapping plantain leaves and long inscription on upper part of neck, and phoenixes in clouds on lower part. Scrolling peonies on foot.

Image description

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