Bowl with duck pond design and inscription

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1821-1850
Medium
Porcelain with cobalt pigment under clear glaze, enamels over glaze
Style
Jingdezhen ware
Dimensions
H x W x D: 7.6 x 16.5 x 16.5 cm (3 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/2 in)
Geography
China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Credit Line
Gift of Ruth Meyer Epstein
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1992.38
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Bowl

Keywords
Buddhism, China, cobalt pigment, dragon, duck, enamel, inscription, Jingdezhen ware, lotus, porcelain, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1970
Eugene Meyer (1875-1959) and Agnes E. Meyer (1887-1970), Washington, DC, and Mt. Kisco, NY [1]

To 1992
Ruth Meyer Epstein (1921-2007), Scarsdale, NY, given by her parents, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer [2]

From 1992
Freer Gallery of Art, given by Ruth Meyer Epstein in 1992 [3]

Notes:

[1] According to information included in “Page Report,” dated December 1, 1993, in object file.

[2] See note 1.

[3] See Ruth M. Epstein’s Deed of Gift, dated June 9, 1992, in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer (1875-1959) and (1887-1970)
Mrs. Ruth Meyer Epstein

Label

In the fifteenth century the Chinese imperial kilns produced porcelain bowls decorated with ducks and inscribed in Tibetan.  These inscriptions offered a promise of good fortune for Buddhist believers. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the imperial kilns resumed making bowls with this pattern, but the inscription had become corrupted and was no longer written in Tibetan script.  As seen on this nineteenth-century bowl, the writing reproduces the Sanskrit alphabet, but with several mistakes.  Some letters are invented forms that appear to be a misunderstanding of a special form of Tibetan ritual script.  Most members of the Chinese court could not read Tibetan or Sanskrit, but they nevertheless assumed the writing to be an effective Buddhist invocation.

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

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.