Collection online

jar / cover

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Large cloisonné enamel ( jar with a domed cover. The body is decorated with a vigorous five-clawed dragon with open mouth, pursuing a pearl among clouds. The lid is also decorated with a similar dragon in clouds, with a finial in the shape of a lotus pod enclosed in petals. The base is surrounded by a band of lappets.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1426-1435
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 17.06 inches (without lid)
    • Diameter: 55.9 centimetres
    • Height: 62 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        reign mark
      • Inscription Position

        on rim
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Da Ming Xuande nian zhi
      • Inscription Translation

        Made in the Ming dynasty, Xuande reign
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        on rim
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Yu yong jian zao
      • Inscription Translation

        Made under the auspices of the 'Yuyongjian', a division of the Imperial Household.
  • Curator's comments

    Rawson 1992:
    Cloisonné enamel decoration consists of coloured glass paste applied to metal vessels and contained within enclosures made of copper. Various metallic oxides were mixed with the glass paste in order to colour it. Inlay of metalwork with glass and glass paste existed in China from the Shang dynasty onwards and was used on bronzes, ceramics and silver. However, the earliest dated Chinese cloisonné occurs in the Xuande period (1426-1435) of the Ming dynasty, by which time very high-quality imperial pieces were being produced, such as this large jar. The decoration is very similar to that on blue-and-white porcelain of the same period.
    The bright colours of cloisonné enamels were first thought vulgar and garish by Chinese connoisseurs, but by the time this jar was made it was considered appropiate for palace use.Michaelson 2006:
    The Chinese adopted the use of cloisonne from Byzantine artisans and by the 15th century they had perfected the technique.
    The inscription on the neck of this large jar shows that it was made under the auspices of the 'Yuyongjian', a division of the Imperial Household. The reign mark in 'champleve' enamel suggests it was used in the imperial palace.
    The design parallels the decoration on blue and white porcelain of the period.


  • Bibliography

    • Rawson 1992 figure 139 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2014 Sep-2015 Jan, BM WCEC, 'Ming: 50 years that changed China'

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Cloisonn jar with dragons


COMPASS Title: Cloisonn jar with dragons

Image description



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Object reference number: RRC14157

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