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Artwork Details

porcelain with underglaze and glaze
1 7/16 in x 2 1/2 in x 2 1/2 in (3.65 cm x 6.35 cm x 6.35 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

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

Lingzhi mushrooms are the Daoist mushrooms of immortality and have been a staple of Chinese medicine for over 2000 years. Ruyi ,or "as you wish", scepters are based on the form of the lingzhi mushrooms.  Both lingzhi and ruyi  are auspicious symbols and often appear in Chinese ceramics in landscapes, meander, stylized clouds, or as patterned borders. 

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 (blue and white) wares, that was imitated in the later Qing dynasty.

Physical Description:

A small porcelain box with the base and the lid similar in size and shape, being round and shallow with curved sides.  The base is on a foot ring, painted with underglaze cobalt blue to depict ruyi (as you wish) lingzhi mushroom-shaped clouds and meander.  It is covered in a clear glaze.

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