Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, probably 17th century
Earthenware with cobalt-tinted lead-oxide glaze
H x Diam: 8.6 × 17.1 cm (3 3/8 × 6 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


calligraphy, China, earthenware, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), plum blossom

To 1902
Thomas B. Clarke (1848-1931), New York, NY, to 1902 [1]

From 1902 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased at the sale of the Thomas B. Clarke Collection, American Art Association, New York, NY, in 1902 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 1106, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Thomas B. Clarke 1848-1931
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
American Art Association (C.L. Freer source) established 1883


The thick lead-based glaze that covers this bowl resembles the glazes used on roof tiles and architectural pottery made during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Potters at the tile workshops may have augmented their incomes by making household dishes. The decoration, which was molded separately and attached to the bowl before glazing and firing, consists of a repeat pattern of the character shou, meaning longevity, and five-petaled plum flowers. Five is an auspicious number that represents the Five Blessings of Life, which are health, longevity, peaceful death, wealth, and love of virtue.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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