Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Hongwu reign, 1368-1398
Porcelain with cobalt decoration under colorless glaze
Jingdezhen ware
H x Diam: 15.7 × 41 cm (6 3/16 × 16 1/8 in)
China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


China, Hongwu reign (1368 - 1398), Jingdezhen ware, lotus, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), peony, porcelain, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

After the first Ming emperor ousted the previous foreign-ruled dynasty, he became suspicious of outsiders and closed China, affecting porcelain production that had previously catered to Near Eastern customers. At the same time, he initiated use of blue and white at the Chinese court, and some scholars believe the Hongwu emperor established an imperial kiln in 1369. Others date that event  later, noting that court arts were not a priority for him. Nonetheless, significant porcelains, such as this bowl, appeared. Its date is confirmed by fragments of similar porcelains in a Hongwu-dated stratum discoverd by archaeologists at the site of the Ming kilns in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province. A notable trait of the period is the mostly pale blue color of the cobalt decoration beneath the glaze-a blue tone lighter than that seen on the blue-and-white wares of the previous dynasty or the later Ming dynasty. The reason seems to be the quality of the colorless glaze; this particular recipe, used only during the Hongwu reign, had a tendency toward opacity.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 89.
  • Sekai toji zenshu [Catalogue of the World's Ceramics]. 16 vols, Tokyo, 1955-1958. vol. 11: pl. 39.
  • Helmut Brinker. Shussan Shaks in Sung and Yuan Painting. vol. 9 Washington and Ann Arbor. pl. 4.
  • Fujioka Ryoichi. Gen, Min Hajime no sometsuka [Blue and White of the Yuan and Early Ming Dynasties]. no. 11 Tokyo. p. 11, fig. 18.
  • Ming Porcelains in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 1953. p. 11, fig. 1.
  • Jan Stuart. Guiding Luminaries Charles Lang Freer and John A. Pope: the Freer Gallery of Art's Chinese Ceramic Collection. vol. 85 London. p. 123, fig. 16.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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