Chinese / Vase / Ming to Qing period, 17th centuryChinese
Ming to Qing period, 17th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
Title: Vase
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1600
Creation End Date: 1699
Creation Date: Ming to Qing period, 17th century
Creation Place: China, Jiangxi Province
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Porcelain painted with underglaze cobalt blue and copper red (Jingdezhen ware)
Dimensions: H. 39 1/2 in. (100.3 cm); D. 15 in. (38.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.185
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: Ceramics made during the transition from imperial Ming patronage (1368-1644) to that of the subsequent Qing dynasty (1644-1912) are generally classified as Transitional wares (second to eighth decades of the 17th century). This large zun-shaped vase painted with a design of squirrels and grapes may represent an important link between Transitional and early imperial Qing ceramics. Smaller porcelains in this shape--which derives from bronze vessels produced during the Shang and Zhou dynasties (c. 1700-221 BCE)--were common during the reign of the Kangxi emperor (r. 1662-1723), but the lively and painterly manner in which the decoration covers the surface of the vase is more comparable to the type of painting found on Transitional wares than to the structured compositions and precise images on Kangxi porcelains. In addition, the thick glaze that appears not to have melded with the porcelain during firing is also typical of Transitional wares.

The theme of squirrels and grapes is painted in an underglaze cobalt blue with accents in underglaze copper red. Although grapes were used as a decorative motif in Tang-dynasty (618-906) metalwork, the theme of squirrels and grapes did not appear in Chinese painting until the Yuan (1278-1367) or early Ming dynasties,and it was most popular from the 16th through 19th centuries, when it also spread to Korea and Japan. The motif is a rebus wishing the viewer and the owner of the jar longevity: in Chinese, the words for squirrel and pine tree have the same pronunciation, and in this motif, the squirrel replaces the pine tree as a symbol of old age. In addition, the words for peach and grape are also homonyms, and here grapes replace the peach as a symbol of immortality. The use of this theme and of the traditional zun shape suggest that this vase was made for domestic consumption, although it is not clear exactly who the patron would have been.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 81.
Related Document Description: Little, Stephen. Chinese Ceramics of the Transitional Period, 1620-1683. New York: China House Gallery/China Institute in America, 1983, pp. 24, 25, 30.
Related Document Description: Wardwell, Allen. 'John D. Rockefeller 3rd and Asian Art.' Apollo (November 1983), pp. 367-68.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.185
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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