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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Porcelain tankard decorated in underglaze blue. This tankard has a globular body and a cylindrical neck with a raised band around the rim and collar. Its S-shaped handle terminates in the head and tail of a sinewy dragon which seems to bite the rim of the tankard and whose tail curls back on itself. The circular unglazed base is recessed. It is painted in rich tones of cobalt blue beneath the glaze with stylized lotus scroll, including budding blooms and leaves, around the body. The neck is decorated with white-crested waves. Around the foot is an unusual border of individual circular motifs divided in quarters and separated by vertical lines. The collar is decorated with a band of bifurcated scroll work and the rim with a patterned border.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1403-1424
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 14 centimetres
    • Width: 14.2 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Harrison-Hall 2001:
    As well as being made in blue-and-white in the Yongle period, tankards were also produced in monochrome white at Zhushan, Jingdezhen. For example, in 1983 a white tankard of related shape with a fluted neck and different handle was excavated at Zhushan from the Yongle stratum. This shape continued to be made in the succeeding Xuande era and was often inscribed with a Xuande reign mark, but the form of the vessel and the style of decoration are a little different. For instance, Xuande pieces have wider bases than the Yongle tankards and some have higher finger grips on the handle. Such tankards were apparently also made with covers. An example in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, has a fitted domed cover with a knob finial.
    The shape of the present vessel is modelled after a form found in Near Eastern metal work and jade. The earliest published dated examples of metal work from the Near East date to 1456-7. However, it is likely that earlier examples existed. The ridging around the neck suggests that the porcelain is imitating a tankard made from sheet metal, possibly silver, in which the shape would be strengthened by such a thickened section around the neck. A white nephrite jade tankard, possibly also imitating earlier metal work, inscribed with the names and titles of Ulugh Beg, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, made in Central Asia, possibly at Samarkand, and dating to the period 1417-49, is in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Museum, Lisbon.


  • Bibliography

    • Lentz & Lowry 1989a 125 bibliographic details
    • Roxburgh 2005 185 bibliographic details
    • Harrison-Hall 2001 3:14 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    1989 13 Aug-5 Nov, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 'Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century'
    1989 16 Apr-6 Jul, Washington, D.C., Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 'Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century'
    2011 Mar-Jul, London, BM, 'No Equal in All the World: Artistic Legacies from Herat, Afghanistan'
    2014 Sep-2015 Jan, BM WCEC, 'Ming: 50 years that changed China'

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number



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Object reference number: RRC13160

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