Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Chinese Porcelain

 

Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650

 

Dishes

 

Page 1

Jingdezhen was the production centre of export porcelain, but smaller kilns in southern China competed on Asian markets. A group of factories in the south of Fujian province was particularly active. Their products are referred to by the old name of 'Swatow', which is derived from the harbour from where these wares were allegedly shipped. However, recent archaeological research has proved that in fact they were produced in the Zhangzhou area in a variety of kilns. Thick-bodied porcelain or stoneware dishes, jars, jarlets and covered boxes were made here from around 1570. Bowls, bottles, vases and kendis are more rare.

The output was exported to Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, but not to Europe, where this type was regarded as too heavy and coarse. The Portuguese – and later the VOC (Dutch East India Company, 1602–1799) – used Swatow as a commodity in their inter-Asian trade. The type is known in underglaze blue, in overglaze enamels and in combinations of the two. The decorations are largely derived from Jiajing and kraak porcelain made for export in Jingdezhen, but the quality of their painting is usually noticeably inferior. Landscapes with birds or deer, for instance, were sometimes drawn so quickly and sketchily that it is difficult to see what exactly is depicted. Dishes and jars often have much kiln grit adhering to their bases and their thick, milky glaze can be heavily crackled. Rather unusual are dishes with an underglaze monochrome brown or blue, decorated in white slib with dots and lines a technique only seen on Swatow wares. Also exclusive to Swatow are dishes decorated in green enamels with Arabic inscriptions that were made for the sultans in Aceh (northern Sumatra). The large jars were used to transport and stored dried fish, pickled vegetables, arak, oil, etc. Small jars contained cosmetic oils or magical fluids, while covered boxes held a paste, an ointment or whatever the owner wanted to keep in it. Swatow was highly regarded in Indonesia and for centuries pieces were cherished as family heirlooms (pusaka porcelain). Almost all Swatow in the Netherlands was collected in the former Dutch Indies and ended up here. The civil wars in China in the mid-17th century interrupted porcelain exports from Jingdezhen, but brought an end to Swatow production.

The Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Dishes category is divided into two major groups:

  • Blue and White
  • Polychrome

 

Dishes - Blue and White

2011098
2011098

Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Dishes - Blue and White - Page 1

 

Object 2011098

 

Dish

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow)

 

1580-1620

 

Height 90 mm (3.54 inch), diameter of rim 385 mm (15.16 inch), diameter of footring 170 mm (6.70 inch), weight 2,142 grams (75.56 ounce (oz.))

 

Dish on footring, wide flat rim. Crackled glaze and some kiln-grit adhering to the footring and base. Decorated in underglaze blue with a phoenix standing on a rock with his head craned up in a marsh landscape with rocks, bamboo, flowering peony, issuing lotus, insects in flight and the moon. The rim and sides are divided into eight large and eight narrow segments. Of the eight large fields four are filled with peach, two with peony and two with bamboo. The eight narrow fields are filled with patterns of dots toped with flowersprays. On the reverse two brought bands one filled with four flowering stems the other with two flower sprays.

 

The standing phoenix and his environment that since he is a chimerical creature, the phoenix may adopt the 'image' of natural birds and also 'influence' them to stimulate him, provided only stunning beauty is the result. This unique creature is composed of admirable parts of various animals. The phoenix has the head of a pheasant, surmounted by a cock's comb, the beak of a swallow, the neck of a tortoise. He subsides on the seeds of bamboo and on sacred springs. He is virtue and benevolence, strides rather than walks. He is over six feet tall. Flying, he fills the air with music. On Swatow types, the phoenix is represented in two ways: standing or flying. But whereas both motifs are common decorations on polychrome Swatow types, only the standing phoenix is common in blue-white. The phoenix stands always large, in profile, on long legs. Bamboo, his traditional food, and peony, his traditional tribute, surround him. But the detail of his head, his plumage and his environment vary. Painting is outline and wash, frequently in contrasting shades of blue. (Harrisson 1979, pp.63-68)

 

Similar shaped and decorated dishes were found amongst the cargo of 'The Binh Thuan Shipwreck' a Chinese merchant vessel on its way from China to Johore that sank off southern Vietnam in 1608. Its recovered porcelain cargo was sold by Christie's Australia in 2004. (Melbourne 2004, p.14)

 

For similarly decorated dishes, please see:

Condition: A hairline and a frit to the rim.

 

References:

Miedema 1964, cat. S22

Harrisson 1979, cat. 106 & 107

Adhyatman 1999, p.23 & cat. 76

Melbourne 2004, p.14 & lot 1-10, 585-592 & 703-712

 

Price: € 2.499 - $ 2,789 - £ 2,151

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

 

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2011357
2011357

Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Dishes - Blue and White - Page 1

 

Object 2011357

 

Dish

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow)

 

1570-1650

 

Height 81 mm (3.19 inch), diameter of rim 315 mm (12.40 inch), diameter of footring 121 mm (4.76 inch), weight 1.550 grams (54.68 ounce (oz.))

 

Dish on footring, straight rim. Decorated in underglaze blue with a central flower spray encircled by a sketchy wave-like border. On the sides and rim four groups with flower sprays. On the reverse three concentric bands in underglaze blue. 

 

These dishes can be classified as dishes from 'The Conservative Family', typical of the decoration is that it is painted without outline and is usually executed in one shade of gray or blackish-blue. The method of painting is early and indicates an early production phase, but this method of drawing could have continued until the seventeenth century. The most common decorative motifs are flower patterns, peonies, lotus and chrysanthemum. Centre patterns, animal or floral, are encircled by a broadly brushed wave band. The rims are decorated with thin undulating vines and heart-shaped leaves which in the later pieces becomes a perfunctory scroll. (Adhyatman 1999, p.21)

 

For similarly decorated dishes, please see:

Condition: A firing flaw to the base and a hairline to the rim.

 

References:

Harrisson 1979, cat. 25

Adhyatman 1999, p.21 & cat. 6

 

Price: € 499 - $ 556 - £ 429

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

 

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201044
201044

Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Dishes - Blue and White - Page 1

 

Object 201044

 

Dish

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow)

 

1522-1566

 

Height 30 mm (1.18 inch), diameter of rim 185 mm (7.29 inch), diameter of footring 100 mm (3.94 inch), weight 289 grams (10.19 ounce (oz.))

 

Dish on footring, flat rim with foliated edge. Crackled glaze. Decorated in underglaze blue with a ch'i-lin, its head facing the moon with stylised emblems and clouds, encircled by a double concentric band. The sides are undecorated. On the rim a border with sketched characters in between a criss-cross pattern.

 

A similarly shaped and decorated dish was excavated from the wreck of the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) vessel the Witte Leeuw (1613). Its properly excavated and documented cargo included many pieces of kraak porcelain in a wealth of varieties. (Pijl-Ketel 1982, p.207, inv.no:11875)

 

For similarly decorated dishes, please see:

Condition: Perfect.

 

References: 

Harrisson 1979, cat. 39-42

Pijl-Ketel 1982, p.207

Krahe 2016, cat. 145

 

Price: € 399 - $ 445 - £ 343

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

 

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201067
201067

Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Dishes - Blue and White - Page 1

 

Object 201067

 

Small dish

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow)

 

1573-1620

 

Height 26 mm (1.02 inch), diameter of rim 142 mm (5.59 inch), diameter of footring 73 mm (2.88 inch), weight 151 grams (5.33 ounce (oz.))

 

Small dish on footring, flat rim. Decorated in underglaze blue with a feng-huang, or Chinese phoenix, standing in a landscape on rocks, surrounded by a thin border of scrolls. The sides are undecorated. On the rim a banda border with a flower, a lozenge, a cash and an artemisia leaf, precious Buddhist objects tied with ribbons. On the reverse two elongated stems with three tiny peaches and on the sides three small flower sprays.

 

For a similarly decorated dish, please see:

Condition: Perfect, some wear to the glaze on the rim.

 

References:

Mudge 2000, cat. 93

Krahe 2016, cat. 133

 

Price: € 399 - $ 445 - £ 343

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

 

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Dishes - Polychrome

2011635
2011635

Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Dishes- Polychrome - Page 1

 

Object 2011635

 

Dish

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow)

 

1579-1620

 

Height 44 mm (1.73 inch), diameter of rim 261 mm (10.28 inch), diameter of footring 134 mm (5.28 inch), weight 736 grams (25.96 ounce (oz.))

 

Dish on footring, flat rim and a partially glazed base. Crackled glaze. Polychrome decorated with overglaze iron-red and green and turquoise overglaze enamels with two phoenixes is flight, lotus and peonies plants, pendant jewels and roundels representing peaches. The background is completely filled with leafy scrolls. On the sides four foliated and four round medallions filled with flowering lotus plants on a crossed lines ground. The reverse is undecorated.

 

Swatow ware was mainly exported to Japan and Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. It was the main Chinese export ware to Indonesia in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. Examples are found as treasured heirlooms and excavated in ancient historical sites and shipwrecks. In the past they were used extensively by the nobility and the elite in communal feasts heaped with food, as wedding gifts and as status symbols. Not many were used as funerary gifts as the Muslim religion forbade such practices. Fragments of polychrome and blue and white ware have been found in the Zhangzhou kilns in Fujian. This is evidence that polychrome wares were made in the same kilns and at the same time as blue and white wares. Polychrome ware is very popular in Indonesia and Japan. In Indonesia it is called Ming merah, or red Ming; in Japan it is named gosu akae, or red ware, and also Nanking enamelled ware. The polychrome ware has four colours. Red tends to be dominant and is used for the principal motifs and diapers. Black is used for outlines and green is the colour of leaves. Turquoise covers black outlines of animals, mythical beasts and humans or it is used on its own. The use of the turquoise colour could have been influenced by Muslin patronage. For the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries with a predominantly Islamic population, the turquoise is an auspicious stone.(Adhyatman 1999, p.14 & p.32)

 

For identically decorated dishes, please see:

For a similarly decorated dish, please see:

Condition: Some firing flaws, a Y-shaped hairline and a chip to all the reverse rim. 

 

References:

Miedema 1964, cat. S194

Woodward 1974, cat. 20

Harrisson 1979, cat. 191

Adhyatman 1999, cat. 197

 

Price: € 499 - $ 556 - £ 429

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

 

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2010354
2010354

Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Dishes - Polychrome - Page 1

 

Object 2010354

 

Dish

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow)

 

1580-1640

 

Height 84 mm (3.31 inch), diameter of rim 410 mm (16.14 inch), diameter of footring 90 mm (3.54 inch), weight with frame 3.429 grams (120.95 ounce (oz.))

 

Large dish on footring, flaring sides, ridged and out-turned at the edge, the base unglazed. Polychrome decorated with overglaze iron-red and green, black and turquoise overglaze enamels with flowering peonies in red, black and green. The stem of the peony, and a pheasant perching on it, are in turquoise over black. On the sides and rim four panels filled with flowering branches, separated by lozenge diapers and roundels in red and green. The reverse is undecorated. Fitted in a brass fame. 

 

The brilliant turquoise shade which compliments green makes Swatow polychromes distinctive. Swatow ware was mainly exported to Japan and Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. It was the main Chinese export ware to Indonesia in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. Examples are found as treasured heirlooms and excavated in ancient historical sites and shipwrecks. In the past they were used extensively by the nobility and the elite in communal feasts heaped with food, as wedding gifts and as status symbols. Not many were used as funerary gifts as the Muslim religion forbade such practices. Fragments of polychrome and blue and white ware have been found in the Zhangzhou kilns in Fujian. This is evidence that polychrome wares were made in the same kilns and at the same time as blue and white wares. Polychrome ware is very popular in Indonesia and Japan. In Indonesia it is called 'Ming merah', or red Ming; in Japan it is named "gosu akae", or red ware, and also Nanking enamelled ware. The polychrome ware has four colours. Red tends to be dominant and is used for the principal motifs and diapers. Black is used for outlines and green is the colour of leaves. Turquoise covers black outlines of animals, mythical beasts and humans or it is used on its own. The use of the turquoise colour could have been influenced by Muslin patronage. For the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries with a predominantly Islamic population, the turquoise is an auspicious stone. (Adhyatman 1999, pp.32-34)

 

For an identically decorated dish, please see:

For a similarly decorated dish, please see:

Condition: Three hairlines and some glaze chips to the rim.

 

References: 

Harrisson 1979, cat. 240

Adhyatman 1999, cat. 206a & 206b

 

Price: € 1.499 - $ 1,673 - £ 1,290

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

 

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2011129
2011129

Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Dishes - Polychrome - Page 1

 

Object 2011129

 

Dish

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow)

 

1580-1640

 

Height 75 mm (2.95 inch), diameter of rim 380 mm (14.96 inch), diameter of footring 182 mm (7.17 inch), weight 2.106 grams (74.29 ounce (oz.))

 

Large dish on footring with flaring sides, ridged and out-turned at the edge, the base is unglazed. Polychrome decorated with overglaze iron-red and green, black and turquoise overglaze enamels with two phoenix encircling a pearl amidst clouds. On the sides and rim four large panels filled with flowering plants separated by four narrow panels filled with a lozenge diaper pattern. The reverse is undecorated.

 

Swatow ware was mainly exported to Japan and Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. It was the main Chinese export ware to Indonesia in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. Examples are found as treasured heirlooms and excavated in ancient historical sites and shipwrecks. In the past they were used extensively by the nobility and the elite in communal feasts heaped with food, as wedding gifts and as status symbols. Not many were used as funerary gifts as the Muslim religion forbade such practices. Fragments of polychrome and blue and white ware have been found in the Zhangzhou kilns in Fujian. This is evidence that polychrome wares were made in the same kilns and at the same time as blue and white wares. Polychrome ware is very popular in Indonesia and Japan. In Indonesia it is called 'Ming merah', or red Ming; in Japan it is named 'gosu akae', or red ware, and also Nanking enamelled ware. The polychrome ware has four colours. Red tends to be dominant and is used for the principal motifs and diapers. Black is used for outlines and green is the colour of leaves. Turquoise covers black outlines of animals, mythical beasts and humans or it is used on its own. The use of the turquoise colour could have been influenced by Muslin patronage. For the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries with a predominantly Islamic population, the turquoise is an auspicious stone. (Adhyatman 1999, pp.32-34)

 

For an identically decorated dish, please see:

Condition: Three glaze rough spots and six chips to the rim. Wear to the decoration due to extensive use.

 

References:

Harrisson 1979. pp.101-103

Adhyatman 1999, cat. 212

 

Price: € 499 - $ 556 - £ 429

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

 

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2011384
2011384

Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Dishes - Polychrome - Page 1

 

Object 2011384

 

Dish

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow). Probably from Anxi, Fujijan province.

 

1570-1650

 

Provenance: Formerly in the collection of the famous Dutch author, journalist and adventurer; Johan J. Fabricius (1899-1981). The dish was presented as a gift by, Anneke (Anna) Cornelia Bleeker (Fabricius widow), to her friend Mrs. Tine Kruijt - de Kroes (1930-2012). Both ladies were members of a society studying 'wild plants'.

  

Height 63 mm (2.48 inch), diameter of rim 295 mm (11.61 inch), diameter of footring 107 mm (4.21 inch), weight 820 grams (28.93 ounce (oz.))

   

Dish on footring, flaring sides, ridged and out-turned at the edge. Polychrome decorated with overglaze iron-red and green and black overglaze enamels with a floral spray in a double concentric band, encircled by a biscuit ring painted green with black scrolls and dashes. On the sides and rim four ogival medallions, edged with green and black and filled with floral sprays in red and green separated by other sprays, outlined in red over a striated, red background. The reverse is undecorated. Covered with a crackled cream-white glaze.

 

In 1979, Harrisson states in her 'Swatow' that fragments of this ware have turned up, among Swatow and other fragments, in refuse of the historic Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC), anchorage west of Tanjong Priok at Jakarta. In his 1964 study, Miedema recorded this ware as related to Swatow in style, and suggested it may have originated from a minor kiln in the vicinity of Amoy. What he described is here referred to Southeast Asia with confidence, even though kiln-shreds of this material have not, so far, been identified. The physical and stylistic properties of this ware is closer to Vietnam than to China.

 

Twenty year later; in 1999, Adhyatman states in her 'Zhangzhou (Swatow) Ceramics. Sixteenth to Seventeenth Centuries Found in Indonesia' that often found with Swatow ware as surface finds are ceramics in freely painted designs in underglaze blue and overglaze enamels. They are found at the Pasar Ikan, an old VOC harbour near Jakarta, and in Banten, West Java. In style they are reminiscent of Swatow ware, although they have a different body. At a ceramic symposium of wares from Fujian held in Singapore in April 1998, Mr. Ye Qinglin from the Anxi Museum showed a fragment of a blue and white dish, as a product of the Anxi kilns from the late Ming to early Qing. The origin of these wares is thus established. The stoneware body is brittle, porous and of a creamish-white colour. Dishes have a relatively narrow foot and flaring sides with an angled and down-turned rim forming a ridge on the underside. The exterior is always plain and the base can be glazed or unglazed. The footring, slanting on the exterior, straight on the interior, has straight edge with adherence of glaze smudges. In the interior is an unglazed biscuit ring. In polychrome specimens this is painted green with black scrolls. The transparent glaze is normally crackled with pinholes. The enamels include red, a vivid lime green, a dull sepia or aubergine and black. 

 

For identically decorated dishes, please see:

For a similarly decorated dish, please see:

Willem Ysbrandtszoon Bontekoe (1587-1657) was a skipper with the Dutch East India Company (VOC), who made only one voyage for the company (1618–1625). On a voyage to Java a fire, caused by a shipmate accidentally setting fire to a cask of brandy, caused the gunpowder magazine to explode and sink the ship. 72 sailors, including Bontekoe survived in two lifeboats. First they continued their journey in these two boats but later they went on together in one. Sails were made from the shirts of the crew. They were hungry and thirsty; some drank seawater or urine. Bontekoe did the latter too, until it became too concentrated. Sometimes there was relief by being able to catch birds and flying fish, and by rain supplying drinking water. The hunger became so severe again that the crew decided to soon kill the ship boys. Bontekoe writes that he was against that, and that they agreed that they would wait three more days. Just in time, 13 days after the ship wreck, they reached land where they could eat coconuts. It was an island in the Sunda Strait, 15 miles of Sumatra. They went on to Sumatra, where they encountered locals from whom they could first buy food, but who later attacked them. Eleven crew members were killed. 57 survivors encountered a Dutch fleet of 23 ships near Java under the command of Frederik de Houtman, which saved them from going to the now hostile Bantam. Divided over the ships they reached Batavia on Java, where Bontekoe was received by Jan Pierszoon Coen, who gave Bontekoe a new command and an order to harass the Chinese coast. In 1625 Bontekoe returned to Holland. After his return, he settled down in Hoorn to live a quiet life. Bontekoe might have been forgotten had he not written his journal. This journal/book is about his voyage with the Nieuw Hoorn, the shipwreck, the adventurous voyage to Java in lifeboats, and his subsequent years of service in East Asia, It was first published in 1646 and was a bestseller in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first part of the journal became the basis of the very popular children's book by Johan Fabricius, De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe (1923; 'The Ship Boys of Bontekoe' or 'The Cabin Boys of Bontekoe'). (source: Wikipedia)

 

Johan Johannes Fabricius (August 24, 1899 – June 21, 1981) was a Dutch author, journalist and adventurer. Fabricius was born in Bandung Java. At the beginning of the Second World War in 1940, Fabricius moved to England to work as a newsreader. After the Second World War Fabricius worked as a correspondent for the BBC and The Times in Asia. He wrote approximately 60 books, among them many books for children. He is well known for writing the historical children's book 'De scheepsjongens van Bontekoe'', 'The Ship Boys of Bontekoe' or 'The Cabin Boys of Bontekoe' (1923), which was reprinted 28 times as of 2003. In 1956 he returned to The Netherlands. After the death of his first wife Ruth Freudenberg, Fabricius remarried in 1968 with Anneke (Anna) Cornelia Bleeker. Johan Fabricius died in 1981 at the age of 81 in Glimmen. (source: Wikipedia)

 

Condition: Two hairlines to the rim.

 

References: 

Miedema 1964, cat. S226

Woodward 1974, cat. 21

Harrisson 1979, cat. 245 & 245a

Adhyatman 1999, cat. 257a & 257b

 

Price: € 699 - $ 780 - £ 599

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

 

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