skip to Main Content

Underglaze-Blue Decorated Kraak Porcelain Bowl

Diameter: 36.5 cm. (14 3/8 in.)
Height: 17.0 cm. (14 3/8 in.)

Late Ming dynasty 明晩
17th century

Provenance: Sekido Collection, Tokyo

Exhibited: Tekisui Museum, Ashiya
展示:滴翠美術館 芦屋

The deep bowl with thin walls rising to a foliate rim is surprisingly light in weight for its large size. On the exterior are six ogival-framed panels filled with luxuriant floral arrangements and Buddhist emblems including a sutra scroll, peony, lotus, gourd and camellia, the panels divided by ribbons suspended from bows and geometric plaques and beads dangling below, with an underglaze-blue petal band painted above the foot/ The interior is also decorated with six panels, these containing leafy stems beneath tiny moons surrounding a landscape roundel in the center where a pair of geese inhabit a pond. The cobalt was applied in outline and washes varying in thickness and density. The clear glaze is bright with some specks of black scattered on the interior. Kiln grit adheres to the inward slanting foot and unglazed recessed base where chatter marks are clearly visible.

The style and motifs of the present bowl, an export product of the late Ming period, reflect an earlier underglaze-blue decorated export style. During the Yuan dynasty an aesthetic bent characterizing the underglaze-painted porcelains of Jingdezhen was toward densely packed designs based on petal and ogival arched panels, a variety of naturalistic and symbolic motifs, border designs, and filler patterns. The character of these compositions with their density and abstract patterns were meant to appeal to the Islamic world. At the same time, the subject matter and motifs came straight out of the world of Chinese life, beliefs and legend. The late Ming export wares known as kraak porcelains and represented by the present bowl, followed in that mode, which during the late Ming appealed to the new European clients as well as those in the Middle East. The presence of closely related material discovered from a sunken ship with a 1643 terminus ante quem in the South China Sea—the wares went on to their final destinations through ports in Southeast Asia–suggests a production date at the very end of the Ming for the present bowl, created in a style perfected and popular some decades earlier. The story of the development of low-fired wares and later porcelains in the western world depended on the migration of such porcelains from China.

Back To Top