- Museum number
- Object: One of the David Vases
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.
- Production date
Diameter: 19.60 centimetres
Height: 63.80 centimetres
Weight: 07.70 kilograms
- Curator's comments
Published PDF date : Yuan AD 1351
Room 95 label text:
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
- On display (G95/dc1)
- Exhibition history
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 date
- 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.'
- Registration number