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One of the David Vases

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    PDF,B.613

  • 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 right with mouth closed, 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.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1351
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 636 millimetres
    • Diameter: 220 millimetres
  • 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。吉日捨。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 jiri she. 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. Offered on an auspicious day in the 4th month, 11th Year of the Zhizheng reign.
      • Inscription Comment

        Translated by Peter Y.K. Lam and published Orientations November/December 2009
  • Curator's comments

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

    PDF B613

    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。吉日捨。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. Offered on an auspicious day 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, no. 61 bibliographic details
    • Pierson 2002 p.58, no.38 (left) bibliographic details
    • Riddell 1979 p.85, no.62 (left) bibliographic details
    • Oriental Ceramic Society 1971 pp 101-102, no.138 bibliographic details
    • Hobson, Rackham & King 1931 pp 161-163 and Figs 291 & 292 bibliographic details
    • Pierson 2004A pp 16-17, no.1 bibliographic details
    • Krahl & Harrison-Hall 2009 pp 52-53, no.24 bibliographic details
    • Medley 1976 pp 55-56, no.B613, pl.X bibliographic details
    • Scott 1989b pp 66-67, no.55 (left) bibliographic details
    • Pierson 2004 pp 78-79, no.B613, illus.p.2 bibliographic details
  • Location

    G95/dc1

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1935

  • Acquisition notes

    From the Charles Russell Collection through Sotheby's in 1935, via Sparks, for 360 GBP Hobson, Rackham and King 1931, record from the Charles Russell Collection.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    PDF,B.613

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.

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