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Wine Jar with Fish and Aquatic Plants

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
This jar is one of the finest surviving examples of early blue-and-white porcelain. The very dark blue of the masterfully painted decoration indicates that the cobalt was imported from western Asia, dating the jar to a time before the mineral was discovered within China. In this early period, most blue-and-white wares were made for export to the Middle East, but this jar’s distinctive decoration suggests that it was made for domestic use. When said aloud, the Mandarin Chinese names for the four fish—mackerel, whitefish, carp, and freshwater perch (qing bai lian jie)—form a pun of the phrase meaning “honest and incorruptible,” a visual wordplay that a Mandarin-speaking audience would have appreciated.
MEDIUM Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 14th century
    DYNASTY Yuan Dynasty
    PERIOD Yuan Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS 11 15/16 x 13 3/4in. (30.3 x 34.9cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 52.87.1
    CREDIT LINE The William E. Hutchins Collection, Bequest of Augustus S. Hutchins
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Wine Jar with Fish and Aquatic Plants, 14th century. Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration, 11 15/16 x 13 3/4in. (30.3 x 34.9cm). Brooklyn Museum, The William E. Hutchins Collection, Bequest of Augustus S. Hutchins, 52.87.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 52.87.1_side1_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE side, 52.87.1_side1_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Oviform jar, heavy porcelain body with transparent glaze and underglaze painting in cobalt blue of four fish amid lotus blossoms and aquatic plants. Unglazed base with broad foot rim. Waves encircle the neck. Except for small firing imperfections, condition is excellent. Jingdezhen ware porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration.
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