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Artwork Details

16th century
porcelain with underglaze and glaze
1 9/16 in x 2 3/8 in x 2 3/8 in (3.9 cm x 6 cm x 6 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

This is a qinghua (清华) blue and white box of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The discovery of kaolin clay at Jingdezhen, Jiangxi led to the establishment of official kilns during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), and the production of pure, white, hard paste porcelain and porcelain decorated with underglaze blue. During the 13th century of the Yuan dynasty, with the establishment of Pax Mongolia, blue and white porcelains were exported to Europe and the Middle East, as both tribute gifts as well as for the overseas export market. This continued through the Ming dynasty where porcelain was used domestically by all classes of society. A vast array of forms and designs were made to appeal to a large and diverse overseas as well as domestic market.

One of the most popular forms of decoration was underglaze cobalt blue.  During the Yuan dynasty, the principal source of cobalt came from Persia, in the Ming, however, local sources were found. The domestic cobalt, high in manganese and iron, resulted in a deep blue color with dark specks that has become known as a “heap and piled” effect, a hallmark of Ming qinghua wares, that was imitated in the later Qing dynasty.

Physical Description:

This small porcelain box has a base and the lid similar in size and shape, being round and shallow with curved sides. The box rests on a foot ring and is painted with underglaze cobalt blue to depict a duck and plants, covered in a clear glaze.

Usage Rights:

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