Hot Water Urn
Long assumed to be the work of an American workshop, this silver urn bears a mark, “SS,” that is now known to be that of Sun Shing, a Chinese silversmith who worked in the port city of Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton). Sun Shing made pieces for European and American consumers in the clean-lined, Georgian style practiced by Paul Revere and his contemporaries. Later in the nineteenth century, Sun Shing’s workshop would adapt to changing Western tastes, making heavier, more elaborately decorated pieces and adding more “Chinese-looking” motifs such as dragons and pagodas.
Silver, bone or ivory, pigment
Lid and body together: 18 3/4 × 10 1/2 × 8 1/2 in. (47.6 × 26.7 × 21.6 cm)
Lid only: 6 × 4 1/2 in. (15.2 × 11.4 cm)
Body only: 15 1/8 × 10 1/2 × 8 1/2 in. (38.4 × 26.7 × 21.6 cm) (show scale)
S S in rectangle. (refers to maker Sun Sing, from Canton, China)
George C. Brackett Fund
This item is not on view
American. Hot Water Urn, 1800. Silver, bone or ivory, pigment, Lid and body together: 18 3/4 × 10 1/2 × 8 1/2 in. (47.6 × 26.7 × 21.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, George C. Brackett Fund, 33.244. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 33.244_threequarter_PS11.jpg)
threequarter, 33.244_threequarter_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
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What liquid would this vessel have held?
This urn would have held boiling hot water to make tea. I love the little piece of bone dyed green to resemble jade
What is this? It looks like a Russian samovar, but it’s in the Asian art section.
Much like a samovar, this is a hot water urn. It was made in China for export to the United States. Following the American Revolution, the US traded directly with China for silver goods at a fraction of the prices they paid under British rule. They wished to demonstrate their affluence. This urn was also used for tea in a communal setting over long periods of time.
What was this used for?
This urn was meant for hot water, just like one you might see at a meeting today! Moving the green handle opened the spigot and you could pour water into your cup for tea.