Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Recent Acquisitions

On this page you'll find my latest acquisitions, It may, however, take some time for all objects to load.


This way you can quickly browse through my recently acquired objects without having to browse through all the various categories.


After four weeks each object in 'Recent Acquisitions' will be moved to their specific category.


Latest update; December 18, 2018.


Chinese wares over-decorated in the West 1700-1800 - Dutch over-decorated Amsterdams Bont wares


Object 2012204


Covered jar






Height with cover 64 mm (2.51 inch), height without cover 39 mm (1.54 inch), diameter of rim 58 mm (2.28 inch), diameter of ring knob 25 mm (0.98 inch), diameter of footring 35 mm (1.38 inch), weight with cover 118 grams (4.16 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 54 grams (1.90 ounce (oz.))


Covered jar on footring with an almost cylindrical ribbed body. The ribbed domed cover with a ring knob, the ring knob and cover rim with an underglaze brown-edge (jia mangkou). Undecorated. Over-decorated in iron-red, black and gold enamels in the Netherlands, Amsterdams Bont c.1730-1740 with a framed iron-red and gold cartouche filled with a discreetly draped semi-naked lady washing her feet, aided by a young boy, alternating with a leafy spray. The cover is decorated en suite.


Among the millions of pieces of Chinese porcelain imported by the Dutch in the 18th century, a small amount was not decorated, but completely plain or with just an underglaze blue border design. This 'white' porcelain, as it is called in the records of the VOC, was decorated in the Netherlands in enamel colours by private enamellers, who either made use of ceramic factories and their facilities in Delft, Rotterdam and other Dutch towns, or fired the pieces themselves at a low temperature in a private muffle kiln. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.319


Chinese porcelain coffee or tea-services decorated in encre de Chine with a Chine de commande design were expensive, rare and much in demand. Dutch decorators started over-decorating cheap undecorated Chinese coffee or tea-services with imitations of Chine de commande designs in ence de Chine style and selling it at a profit. Jörg states that copies of Chine de commande are rare and allow a dating post quem. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.319


This Chine de commande scene with a discreetly draped semi-naked lady was made after an engraving by the French engraver Claude-Augustin-Piere Duflos (1700-1786), it is known as 'Le Bain'. It has been suggested that the lady depicted is the famous Marie-Jeanne Bécu or Madame du Barry (1743-1793) the famous mistress of Louis XV of France others say she represents the goddess Diana at her bath while a winged putto washes her feet. This 18th century subject can be found on many examples of Chinese porcelain decorated in China and a few painted in Holland, perhaps copying a Chinese example. (Hervouët 1986, p.124), (Espir 2005, p.189), (Salisbury 2014, p.22, cat. 331


For identically, originally Chinese decorated, objects with the Le Bain design, please see:

For identically over-decorated dishes with the Le Bain design, please see:

Such covered jars were once part of an undecorated coffee and or tea-service. They may have been used to keep lumps of sugar-caandy which was served when drinking tea. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.111


Condition: Two firing flaws and some tiny frits to the footring.



Hervouët 1986, p.214 & no. 6.28 - 6.35, no. 16.18

Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.111 & 319 

Espir 2005, p.189 & cat. 43

Salisbury 2014, cat. 331 


Price: € 699 - $ 794 - £ 627

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Japanese Blue and White wares 17th Century - Dishes


Object 2012205




Japan, Arita presumably Sarugawa




Height 41 mm (1.61 inch), diameter of rim 225 mm (8.86 inch), diameter of footring 116 mm (4.57 inch), weight 514 grams (18.13 ounce (oz.))


Dish on footring, flat rim. On the base three spur-marks in a V-pattern. Decorated in underglaze blue in the style of Chinese kraak porcelain. In the centre a decoration of two branches with fruit, one with pomegranates and one with finger-lemon fruit also called 'Buddha's-Hand citron'. The sides divided into panels filled with stylised peonies and precious objects alternating with narrower panels of florets. The reverse is undecorated.


The pomegranate and Buddha's Hand citron symbolically represent fertility and happiness, together with the peach (longevity) they are being named 'The three Abundances'. (Arts 1983, p.140)


Although the border division copies kraak porcelain, the decoration of the two large branches filling the centre seems to be based on Chinese prototypes of the later Transitional-early Kangxi period. The Japanese potter combined two styles to create a hybrid, fashionable Japanese novelty. Dishes and plates of this design which were apparently popular, were made in different sizes. (Jörg 2003/1, p.28


For identically decorated dishes, please see:

Condition: Firing flaws to the front and reverse rim.



Lunsingh Scheurleer 1971, cat. 8

Woodward 1974, cat. 26(b)

Jenyns 1979, cat. 16a

Arts 1983, p.140

Hartog 1990, cat. 153

Suchomel 1997, cat. 25

Jörg 1999, cat. 27

Impey 2002, cat. 128

Jörg 2003/1, cat. 8

Kyushu 2003, cat. 2595


Price: € 199 - $ 226 - £ 178

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Delft Faience 1640-1730 / Other Earthenware - Delft Faience 1640-1730


Object 2012203




Dutch (Delft)




Height 42 mm (1.65 inch), diameter of rim 302 mm (11.89 inch), diameter of footring 150 mm (5.91 inch), weight 800 grams (28.22 ounce (oz.))


Earthenware dish on footring. flat rim. Decorated in different shades of blue on a white tin glaze with two superimposed shikishi on a blue ground, the one below in dark blue, the other with a a pavilion in a riverscape with clouds, trees and rocks. On the sides four large and four small medallions filled with a flower head and leavy scrolls on a blue ground. The reverse with three circles and three asterisks. The footring has been pierced. 


The superimposed squares represent shikishi, special Japanese papers used for painting or calligraphy. This shikishi pattern was originally used in Japan as a decoration design on moulded dishes with scalloped rims. (Jörg 2002/2, p.38, cat. 21)


F&C cat 22 p40


In his Fine & Curious on page 40, cat. 22 Jörg shows an example of this shikishi design pattern. 

Reproduced from: Fine & Curious. Japanese Export Porcelain in Dutch Collections, (C.J.A. Jörg, Hotei Publishing, Amsterdam, 2003), p.40, cat. 22. This dish is not included in this sale/offer. (copyright in bibliographic data and images is held by the publisher or by their respective licensors: all rights reserved) 


For examples of dishes decorated with this shikishi design pattern, please see:

Apparently the same shikishi design pattern was used on Delftware of c.1660-1680 proving that Japanese pieces with this design pattern were known in The Netherlands at that time. (Jörg 2002/2, p.38, cat. 21)


For an identically shaped and similarly decorated Dutch (Delftware) dish, please see;

Condition: Some minor frits and glaze chips to the rim.



Jörg 2002/2, cat. 21, cat. 21a & cat. 22


Price: € 999 - $ 1,136 - £ 891

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Japanese Blue and White wares 18th Century


Object 2012200








Height 41 mm (1.61 inch), diameter of rim 194 mm (7.64 inch), diameter of biscuit base 134 mm (5.28 inch), weight 402 grams (14.18 ounce (oz.))


Dish (once part of a butter tub with matching dish set) with a broad biscuit band and three similar feet, the recessed centre glazed, flat rim with slightly everted edge. Decorated in underglaze blue and gold with a river scene showing a pavilion, a gate and trees on the rocky bank. Near the pavilion two groups of square objects (rocks or racks?). Round the rim a border with a diaper pattern in gold alternating with reserved ruyi-shaped and trapezoid panels filled with stylised flowers. (Jörg 2003/1, pp.180-181, cat. 221)


For an identically shaped and decorated butter tub dish, please see;

For identically shaped and decorated dishes with matching butter tubs, please see;

Condition: Some firing flaws.



Jörg 1986/1, cat. 77

London 1997, cat. 80

Finch 1998, cat. 101

Jörg 2003/1, cat. 221

Tokyo 2009, cat. 165


Price: € 749 - $ 848 - £ 664

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Japanese Tea, Coffee and Chocolate wares 18th Century


Object 2012195








Height with cover 105 mm (4.13 inch), height without cover 67 mm (2.64 inch), diameter handle to spout 150 mm (5.91 inch), diameter of mouthrim 50 mm (1.97 inch), diameter of footring 55 mm (2.17 inch), weight with cover 224 grams (7.90 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 57 grams (2.01 ounce (oz.))


Globular pear-shaped teapot, fluted body. Curved handle and a straight spout. Ribbed cover. Fitted with Dutch silver mounts (knob of cover and spout). Decorated in iron-red and gold. Reserved on the red ground stylised scrolls with leaves and flowers in gold and two kidney-shaped medallions each filled with a riverscape. On the handle and spout stylised leafy scrolls in gold. The cover is decorated en suite.


For identically decorated teacups and saucers, probably belonging to the same tea ervice as this teapot, please see:

For similarly decorated coffee pots, please see:

Condition : Perfect.



Kassel 1990, cat. 292

Arita 2000, cat. 98 

Jörg 2003/1, cat. 262


Price: € 699 - $ 797 - £ 619

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Japanese wares with Western Designs 1653-1800


Object 2012173








Height 29 mm (1.14 inch), diameter of rim 198 mm (7.80 inch), diameter of footring 112 mm (4.41 inch), weight 256 grams (9.03 ounce (oz.))


Dish on footring, flat rim with a moulded, wavy, edge in relief. On the base three spur-marks. Decorated in underglaze blue with a village with a church and houses, a lighthouse with trees, figures with a cow, and the poles with clouds. The slightly crimped rim is painted with a wave-scroll border. On the reverse three sprays of flowering branches. The low footring is encircled with a double concentric band.


This design on this dish has traditionally been called 'Deshima' or 'Scheveningen'. It certainly does not depict the Dutch factory in Deshima (Nagasaki), a fan-shaped, man-made island in Japan to which Westerners were restricted between 1641 and 1862. Scheveningen, a fishermen´s village on the Dutch coast near The Hague, is a more appropriate name. In fact 47 "Scheveningen" plates were already mentioned in the 1778 sale catalogue of the porcelain shop of Martha Raap in Amsterdam, clearly indicating this type. Research was undertaken to find the print that was used as a model, non with this view have come to light. it is therefore possible that another source was used, maybe a plate or dish in the so-called Frijtom style. This is the most common version of this design, later copied by the Chinese.  The design, almost certainly copied from a drawing by Frederick van Frijtom (1652-1702), was highly popular in The Netherlands, and possibly also in Japan as a kind of Western exoticism. The rim design is unique in Chinese export porcelain and is almost certainly after a silver original. (Howard & Ayers 1978, vol. 1, pp.72-73), (Terwee 1989, pp.494-501), (Jörg 2003/1, p.240)


These dishes with the so called 'Deshima' or 'Scheveningen' design first appeared, in underglaze blue, on Japanese dishes of around c.1700. In the collection of the Groninger Museum is a blanc Chinese porcelain dish overdecorated in Delft (the Netherlands) c.1700-1730 with identical design. This dish is an original Japanese version. (Jörg 2003/1, cat. 307a)


For identically shaped and decorated dishes, please see:

For a similarly, sold, Chinese version, please see:

Condition: A firing flaw to the reverse rim. .



Lunsingh Scheurleer 1971, cat. 65

Corbeiller 1974, cat. 10

Howard & Ayers 1978, cat. 32

Jenyns 1979, cat. 19a. (ii)

Arts 1983, Plate 57

Terwee 1989, pp.494-501

Ayers, Impey & Mallet 1990, cat. 324

Howard 1994, p.44, cat. 11

London 1997, cat. 75

Arita 2000, cat. 72

Impey 2002, cat. 392 & 393

Jörg 2003/1, cat. 306 & 307

Kyushu 2003, cat. 2549

Antonin & Suebsman 2009, cat. 98

Sargent 2012, cat. 42


Price: Sold.


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Kraak Porcelain wares 1570-1645 - Dishes - Page 1


Object 2012199








Height 33 mm (1.30 inch), diameter of rim 207 mm (8.15 inch), diameter of footring 118 mm (4.65 inch), weight 233 grams (8.22 ounce (oz.))


Dish on footring, slightly scalloped flat rim. Decorated in underglaze blue with a bird of prey perched on a trunk of an overhanging pine tree within a bracket-lobed medallion. This central scene is reserved on a braided-pattern ground. On the sides and rim with large panels filled with peach sprays, flower sprays and auspicious symbols alternating with narrow panels with a braided-pattern and a circle or lozenge shape between dots. On the underside large ogival or round panels filled with a circle or lozenge shape surrounded by dots alternating with narrow panels filled with lingzhi motifs.


According to Rinaldi this dish can be classified as a Border VII.2 dish. Here the large panels on the border are no longer filled with floral sprays or insects, while the peach has begun its transformation into what is known as the sunflower motif. Auspicious symbols replace floral sprays and insects, most of them concerned with longevity, as if to ward off the dangers of wars and famines which swept over China at that time. These symbols are usually Daoist or the Eight treasures. Buddhist symbols are much rarer. In this group narrow panels are partly filled with diaper motifs. In the centre Medallion the ducks in a pond and the hanging basket are still very common. In this group a new motif appears: a bird on a rock near water and large flowers, usually peonies. The scheme of the underside repeats that of the front. Large ogival or round panels contain fungus and dots; narrow sections contain stylised lingzhi motifs. In this group narrow panels are partly filled with diaper motifs while there are a few dishes which do not have a diaper border around the central medallion. (Rinaldi 1989, pp.100-105)


The motif of a bird of prey, in flight or on a rock, is also quite common in other types of kraak porcelain. The bird of prey (eagle) symbolises power, through its allusion to the bird's power and the longevity of pine trees, it conveys good wishes to an old man. These wishes are further emphasised by the peach, a symbol of immortality. (Jörg 2002/2, p.54


A plate recovered from the wreck of the Spanish galleon, the San Diego, that sank on 14th December 1600 near Fortune Island in the Philippines has a somewhat similar depiction of a bird of prey. This demonstrates that the bird of prey motif was popular at the end of the 16th century and thus is found on a variety of shapes of kraak wares. (Vinhais & Welsh 2008, pp.89-90)


For other dishes decorated with a bird of prey (eagle), please see:

Condition: Three firing flaws, two frits, two chips and two frits with a connected hairline, all to the rim.



Rinaldi 1989, pp.100-105

Jörg 2002/2, cat. 27 & 34

Vinhais & Welsh 2008, cat. 2


Price: € 499 - $ 569 - £ 445

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Blue and White wares since 1722 - Western Shapes


Object 2012198


Milk bowl






Height 60 mm (2.36 inch), diameter of rim 112 mm (4.41 inch), diameter of footring 54 mm (2.13 inch)

weight 185 grams (6.52 ounce (oz.))


Small milk bowl on splayed foot with a wide footring, steep sides and an everted rim. The rim with a short pinched spout and a small ribbed side handle with thumb rest. Decorated in underglaze blue with a pine tree, flowering lotus and other plants growing from rockwork. On the bottom a single flowering lotus. Round the inner rim a small band with diaper patterns alternating with panels filled with half flower heads. 


In 1745 the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) ships take along milk bowls to the Netherlands for the first time, in rather small quantities. This stops after 1752, but in the sixties the occasionally reappear. Shipping invoices and reports do not describe them, but only refer to drawings or samples. We read, however, that a milk bowl should have a handle, while the order for 1750 mentions two sizes: one for half a pint and one with the contents of a mingele (2 pints or 1.2 litres).

In the wreck of the VOC ship Geldermalsen (1752) Captain Michael Hatcher found 479 of the 548 such milk bowls on the shipping invoice - exclusively in underglaze blue - with a handle and short spout in two different sizes, finally making clear what a milk bowl looks like.

Little is known about the use of these milk bowls. Presumably children and old people slop their bread in them and then pour out the remaining milk. They could also be used to skim the cream off the milk. The rare milk bowls in existing collections can now be recognized as to type and dated more accurately. (Jörg 1986/1, pp.72-73, fig. 59)


Howard states that these milk (dairy) bowls were imported into Holland in any quantity only for eight years (1745-1752), and probably there was no private trade in this form. (Howard 1994, p.225)


For similarly shaped milk bowls, please see:

Condition: Firing flaws to the handle and inner rim and a chip to the rim.



Howard 1974, p.772

Amsterdam 1986, lot 4001-4130

Jörg 1986/1, fig.59

Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, Pl. 183

Howard 1994, cat. 264


Price: € 249 - $ 284 - £ 221

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Japanese Imari 1690-1800


Object 2012193


Covered bowl






Height including the cover 82 mm (3.23 inch), height excluding the cover 66 mm (2.60 inch), diameter of rim bowl 112 mm (4.41 inch), diameter of footring bowl 42 mm (1.65 inch), diameter of ring knob cover 34 mm (1.34 inch), diameter of rim cover 104 mm (4.09 inch), weight bowl 137 grams (4.82 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 79 grams (2.79 ounce (oz.)). 


Bowl on footring, narrow spreading rim, domed cover with ring knob. Imari, decorated in underglaze blue, iron-red, green, aubergine and black enamel and gold with three groups of pine and blossoming prunus trees. Near the footring a band with a continuous flowering scroll. Inside the bowl and cover tree scattered flower heads. The cover is decorated en suite.


1 (1)


Condition: Firing flaws to the base and inner footring.


Price: € 449 - $ 509 - £ 390

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690 


Object 2012196


Deep saucer dish






Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.


Height 38 mm (1.50 inch), diameter 120 mm (4.72 inch), diameter of footring: 42 mm (1.65 inch), weight 168 grams (5.93 ounce (oz.))


Deep saucer dish on footring. Decorated in underglaze blue with a very simple and with quick brush strokes painted riverscape with a fishing boat. The reverse is undecorated. On the reverse the original Christie's "Vung Tau Cargo" sale lot 905 label. 


The Vung Tau Cargo wreck, c.1690 was discovered by fishermen of the islands of Con Dao in the south of Vietnam. Sverker Hallstrom obtained the license to excavate the wreck after the Vietnam Salvage Corporation (Visal) had carried out preliminary excavation. The starboard side of the hull, from the keel to the waterline, remained in good condition. It was found to be the hull of a lorcha, a ship of combined

Eastern and Western influence, and the first ever found. The wreck has been dated to c.1690.

From an analysis of the cargo it seems that the ship was bound from China to Batavia where the

bulk of the ceramics would have been transhipped to a Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde

Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) vessel for the onward voyage to Holland. The porcelain was destined for a port where it would have been transhipped onto a VOC vessel for the onward voyage to Holland. The other goods were to supply the Chinese community at the same port. That port was Batavia. Christie's Amsterdam auctioned the porcelain cargo in April 1992.


In total 2,714 saucers, by Christie's named the 'Provincial blue and white saucers', were sold divided over the lots: 894-920. (Amsterdam 1992)


For two other identically shaped, sized and decorated, sold deep saucer dishes, please see:

Condition: Two firiring flaws and a fleabite and a frit to the rim.



Jongsma 1992, pp.453-456.

Amsterdam 1992, lots 894-920.

Jörg & Flecker 2001, fig. 73.


Price: € 199 - $ 227 - £ 173

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Chinese Imari 1700-1800


Object 2012177


Cuspidor / Spittoon






Height 81 mm (3.18 inch), diameter of rim 144 mm (5.67 inch), diameter of footring 40 mm (1.57 inch), weight 312 grams (11.01 ounce (oz.))


Cuspidor or spittoon on footring. Globular body, narrow shoulder, the upper part shaped as a bowl with straight, wide-spreading sides. Chinese Imari, decorated in underglaze blue, iron-red and gold. On the body and inside the bowl two groups of flowering plants. On the outside of the bowl two wide spread flower sprays.


The cuspidor or spittoon was indispensable when chewing tobacco. Chinese spittoons were introduced into the export assortment around 1700, competing with the slightly earlier Japanese pieces. They usually have a spherical body, a shape borrowed from Chinese vessels which had originally been used as vases for a single lotus flower.(Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.118)


The doll’s house of Petronella Oortman (1656-1716), c.1686 - c.1710, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, BK-NM-1010. Two spittoons are standing beside the table and chairs. (Picture courtesy :


Condition: A popped bubble of glaze to the reverse rim and some tiny shallow rough spots to the footring.



Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.118


Price: € 399 - $ 453 - £ 354

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Blue and White Kangxi Period 1662-1722 - Other wares


Object 2012190








Height 74 mm (2.91 inch), diameter of rim 126 mm (4.96 inch), diameter of footring 52 mm (2.05 inch), weight 191 grams (6.74 ounce (oz.))


Bowl or klapmuts on footring, spreading flat rim with a scalloped edge. Decorated in underglaze blue. On the outside four panels alternately decorated with a flowering plant growing from a taihu (garden)rock and precious objects. On the bottom a flowering plant and on the sides four panels each filled with flowering plant. On the reverse rim four florets between scrolls. Marked on the base with the symbol mark: 'Artemisia leaf', symbol for healing and wealth, in a double circle in underglaze blue.


The shape and the outside decoration resemble those of Kraak Porselein klapmutsen of the first half of the 17th century. When the export trade was resumed in the 1680s and the Dutch became good customers again, there was a tendency to revive the traditional Kraak porcelain shapes and the style of painting with decoration arranged in wide and narrow panels. Some pieces are more or less close imitations, others, like this bowl, are hybrids, combining some Kraak characteristics with the new Kangxi patterns. Most examples are painted in underglaze blue, but the type is also known from a few, rare famille verte pieces. The fashion was short lived as new shapes and decorations soon took over. The Yu, "jade", character mark is traditionally called the F-mark in the Netherlands and is very common on good-quality blue and white Kangxi export porcelain. (Jörg & Van Campen 1997, p.105 & p.115)


For similarly shaped and decorated bowls, please see:

Condition: A firing flaw to the footring. Two fleabites and some frits to the rim. A chip to the reverse rim and a hairline to the rim.



Rinaldi 1989, p.118 & Pl. 295

Davison 1994, cat. 33

Jörg & Van Campen 1997, cat. 98, p.105 & p.115


Price: Sold.


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Japanese Blue and White wares 17th Century - Dishes


Object 2012189








Height:51 mm (2.01 inch), diameter of rim 320 mm (12.60 inch), diameter of footring 150 mm (5.91 inch), weight 1,110 grams (39.15 ounce (oz.))


Dish on footring, flat rim. On the base five spur-marks in a X-pattern. Decorated in underglaze blue with a flower basket on a low table on a fenced terrace filled with a blossoming prunus. On the sides and rim large panels filled with stylised peonies and precious objects alternating filled with knotted tassels between a scale pattern ground. The reverse is undecorated.


The decoration was copied from Chinese kraak porcelain, although, as usual, it is simplified on such imitations. This style is characteristic of early Japanese export porcelain made for the VOC to replace the well-known Chinese kraak and Transitional wares. Polychrome versions were made as well. (Jörg 2003/1, p.27)


Condition: Firing flaws to the centre and to the rim and some spots with discolouration of the glaze on the front and to the reverse.



Jörg 2003/1, p.27


Price: € 499 - $ 575 - £ 439

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)


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Japanese Blue and White wares 18th Century


Object 2010C308




Japan, Arita, Nangawara valley, Higuchi kiln.




Height 33 mm (1.30 inch), diameter of rim 220 mm (8.66 inch), diameter of footring 137 mm (5.39 inch), weight 479 grams (16.90 ounce (oz.))


Dish on footring, straight sides, short flat rim with an upturned scalloped underglaze brown edge. On the base four spur-marks. The glaze a greyish-white colour with many pin-pricks. Decorated with a moulded low relief of two elephants under the glaze, walking to the left in a landscape with rocks, their trunks on the ground, a monk herding them. Above the elephants a text of ten characters in four lines; on the left another text of ten characters in two lines, both groups in underglaze blue. On the rim a circling line of separate small underglaze blue dots and flowering branches moulded in low relief under the glaze. On the base a square shopmark within a circle in underglaze blue.


In general, in Asian cultures the high intelligence and good memory of Asian elephants is admired. As such, they symbolise wisdom and royal power. In Japanese mythology the elephant is a tusked, fanged mythical beast which appears in both Buddhist and Shinto iconography.

The Japanese had not seen elephants until the 16th century, so representations tend to be elaborated by the fancy of the artist. Presumably because of its watery associations the elephant serves to protect wooden structures against fire and to bring about the rain. Hence it is often seen as a tusked-and-fanged short-trunked finial of roof and ceiling beams (Michael Ashkenazi, Handbook of Japanese Mythology, Oxford University Press 2008, pp. 117-118


Around the middle of the 18th century Arita was depending on the Japanese market again for their sales. Although there was still private trade, the era of large orders for export to the West had passed by. About the same time moulded relief decoration on white porcelain or combined with underglaze blue came into fashion on the more expensive Arita porcelain. According to Fitski, the well-cared for style and brown rim reminds of pieces from the Kakiemon ovens. As a matter of fact, a template for a similar plate has been handed down in the Kakiemon family (Fitski 2002, p. 37/ note 64)


The story depicted is taken from the Neo-Confucian text known as the "Twenty-four Filial Exemplars" written by the Chinese scholar Guo Jujing (Japanese: Kaku Kyokei) during the Yuan dynasty (1260–1368). The book recounts the self-sacrificing behaviour of twenty-four sons and daughters who go to extreme lengths to honour their parents, stepparents, grandparents, and parents-in-law. The text was extremely influential in the mediaeval Far East and was used to teach Confucian moral values.

The scene on the plate shows the story of the Chinese (Ta) Shun (舜, Japanese Taishun (大舜) who was exemplar for modesty and selfless filial piety (xiao 孝). This story was set in his childhood. Shun's mother died when he was young, so his father remarried and had another son with Shun's stepmother. Shun remained filial to his father, respected his stepmother and loved his half-brother even though they tried to kill him. His filial piety moved the gods, so they protected him from harm and made the animals help him in his daily farming chores. At one time he was sent by his father to clear land in the wilderness on Mount Li, where he was aided in his task by herds of Elephants and flocks of birds. 




Taishun (大舜), from: Mirror of the Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety (Nijûshi-kô dôji kagami, 二十四孝童子鑑)

Publisher: Wakasa-ya Yoichi (若狭屋与市), 1840.Size called ôban, 250 mm (9.84 inch) x 36 mm (14.17 inch); graded coloration (bokashi)


The poem on the dish translates something like this: 


"Herds of Elephants plough in the Spring, Flocks of birds pull the weeds; He is the heir of Yao and mounts its Throne; the spirit of filial piety moves the Heart of Heaven".


Shuns selfless acts of filial piety eventually brought him to the attention of the Emperor, who married his daughter to him and subsequently made him his heir. Shun, also known as Emperor Shun and Chonghua, became a legendary leader of ancient China, regarded by some sources as one of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. Oral tradition holds that he lived sometime between 2294 and 2184 BC.


The Chinese theme and poem fits very well with the popularity of the Literati movement in Japan. During the 18th century a movement with a craving for Chinese culture and philosophy arose, which had its origin in the middle of the 17th century, when after the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644 a lot of Chinese intellectuals and monks fled to Japan. This was the beginning of a renewed interest in Chinese culture, especially Confucian studies, poetry and painting. The influence of the Southern Chinese painting school of literates (the movement was called ‘Nanga painting’ in Japan) was also visible in the decoration of porcelain, such as this dish.


A similary decorated set of bowls and nine small dishes are in a private collection in England.


For an identically shaped and decorated dish, please see;

For similar dishes with moulded relief and calligraphy, please see:

Condition: Perfect.



Kyushu 1991, cat. 783 & 784

Kyushu 2002, cat. 226 t/m 228

Fitski 2002, pp. 36-37, cat.37 & p.62 (note 64); p. 47

Ashkenazi 2008, pp. 117-118



Price: Sold.


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