Height with cover 105 mm (4.13 inch), dimensions 75 mm (2.95 inch) x 60 mm (2.36 inch)
Tea caddy of moulded fan-shaped form. On the flat shoulder an unglazed cylindrical mouth with a lid fitting (original) cover. The base is unglazed. Chinese Imari, decorated in underglaze blue, overglaze iron-red and gold in low relief with four moulded panels, one with a garden wall, a porch and a window, in low relief, flowering plants and a pine-tree, two with a pavilion on a shore in a river scape in low relief and one with a bridge between two pieces of land and large rockwork with flowering plants in low relief. On the flat shoulder the unglazed cylindrical mouth is flanked by flowering plants. On the side of the cover two flowering branches and on top a pavilion near a shore with mountains in the background.
Only grown in China and Japan during the 17th Century, tea became known in the Netherlands early because the Dutch East India Company (VOC) shipped small quantities home. Its use as a beverage was established slowly, and was probably started by retired VOC employees who had become accustomed to drinking tea in the East. At a tea party, the expensive beverage was served in small teapots, one for each guest, filled with the leaves of the type he or she preferred. The tea was poured into small cups, while the teapot was refilled with hot water from a metal or sometimes ceramic kettle. (Jörg 2011/2, p.131)
Judging from its shape this tea caddy was once part of a set of seven with one centre piece surrounded by six others and probably on a matching tray. These seven individual tea caddies were filled with various blends so each tea drinker could choose the type he or she preferred. Such a complete must have been regarded as luxury tea wares for the upper classes.
For identically shaped, sized and decorated tea caddies, please see:
- Asian Ceramics in The Hallwyl Collection, (R. Kerr, The Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm, 2015), pp.167, cat. 151.
Condition: Some glaze fritting to two side edges.