Jar of guan shape

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Jiajing reign, 1522-1566
Porcelain with cobalt decoration under colorless transparent glaze
Jingdezhen ware
H x Diam: 26.6 x 32 cm (10 1/2 x 12 5/8 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

Jar (guan)

China, flower, Jiajing reign (1522 - 1566), Jingdezhen ware, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), playing, porcelain, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

From the late fifteenth century onward, porcelains exhibited increasing diversity in decorative styles and techniques (such as application of enamel glzes directly to the fired porcelain body). This tendancy culminated in the varied output of the Chia-ching period (1522-1566).  Thereafter, scale of production gradually began to overwhelm quality. Much blue-and-white porcelain produced at the end fo the Ming dynasty was directed toward a European market, as reflected in the European shapes made to order.

Depicted on this jar, sixteen male children--their mothers' pride and joy--play in an abstracted garden setting, which serves like a stage set to frame the children's activities. All the boys wear their hair in tufts as a sign of youth, while most of the older ones are depicted with jewelry, including amulet necklaces. Separated by large trees and craggy rock formations, some of the children have taken up various adult occupations, including music making, gathering herbs, and riding to town as a successful official. Others concentrate on catching crickets. A cloud-shaped band above suggests a horizon line, while small plants indicate the terrain of this highly stylized landscape.

Published References
  • Stacey Sloboda. Chinoiserie: Commerce and Critical Ornament in Eighteenth-Century Britain. .
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 111.
  • Margaret Medley. The Chinese Potter: A Practical History of Chinese Ceramics. Oxford. fig. 165.
  • Ann Frank. Chinese Blue and White. New York. .
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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