Porcelain bowl with thick walls

Blue-and-white.
Clay: fine white porcelain.
Glaze: transparent, faintly bluish.
Decoration: in underglaze blue, waves, dragons, lotus panels outside. Six-character mark of the period inside bottom.

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Xuande reign, 1426-1435
Medium
Porcelain with cobalt under colorless glaze
Style
Jingdezhen ware
Dimensions
H x Diam: 12.6 × 26.6 cm (4 15/16 × 10 1/2 in)
Geography
China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1945.35a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Bowl

Keywords
China, dragon, Jingdezhen ware, lotus, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), porcelain, WWII-era provenance, Xuande reign (1426 - 1435)
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

Blue-and-white.
Clay: fine white porcelain.
Glaze: transparent, faintly bluish.
Decoration: in underglaze blue, waves, dragons, lotus panels outside. Six-character mark of the period inside bottom.

Label

This imperial bowl bears a Xuande reign mark in the interior. On the exterior it is decorated with two energetic, outstretched dragons gamboling among clouds. The base of the bowl is unglazed.

Deep bowls with thick walls like the Freer's bowl are often called "dice bowls." The name refers to their use in games played by tossing dice into them. It is unclear when the tradition to use bowls in dice games began, but there is pictorial evidence from the Liao Dynasty of this tradition. A Liao mural painting on the south wall of the rear chamber of Zhang Shiqing's tomb in Xuanhua, Hebei Province, illustrates a servant holding a thickly potted bowl filled with dice. While this painting provides evidence that bowls were used in dice games, it does not necessarily prove that Ming dynasty bowls of this shape had an identical purpose. Ming records of this practice have not yet come to light; therefore, scholars are continuing research on the use of the Ming bowls.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol.6, pl. 97, vol. 9, pl. 104.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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