University Collections of Art and History

Object Record

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Catalog Number 2015.5.1.2
Object Name Vase
Description Vase having an ovoid body, tall neck with flared rim, and flat dragon-shaped handles, decorated in overglaze famille rose enamels with scenes of different stages of porcelain production, including mining clay, refining clay, throwing vessels of a wheel, glazing, painting, loading and firing a kiln, and packing for market, around the body and neck. There is a band of floral decoration at the base and a turquoise ground on the interior of the mouth of the vase.

This vase, which is one of a pair, shows scenes of porcelain production in Jingdezhen, the city in southern China where most of the porcelain used in China and exported all over the globe, was made.

Chinese porcelain was mass-produced, with different stages of production, such as mining the clay, shaping vessels, and firing the kiln, divided among different semi-skilled workers.

One observer noted that a typical Chinese porcelain factory had,

"… a large number of workers who each have their appointed task. One piece of porcelain, before it enters the door of the furnace, passes through the hands of more than twenty people without any confusion. No doubt the Chinese have learned that the work is done faster this way."

The scenes on the vases relate to sets of sequentially ordered and annotated images of the stages of porcelain production that were produced for the imperial court starting in the early-eighteenth century. Similar sets of watercolors were also produced for the general Chinese market and for export, and woodblock prints showing stages of porcelain production were included in the Jingdezhen taolu (Record of Jingdezhen Ceramics), which was first published in 1815. The images, and objects like these vases that were decorated with scenes inspired by the images, were meant to inform viewers about the operation of one of China's most important industries.
Year Range from 1825
Year Range to 1875
Material Hard Paste Porcelain
Place of Origin Made in Jingdezhen, China
Collection The Reeves Center
On View Reeves Center, Atrium