Pater Gratia Oriental Art

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Sold Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650

 

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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.

201073
201073

Sold Ceramics - Sold Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Other wares - Page 1

 

Object 201073

 

Covered box

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow)

 

1579-1620

 

Height 50 mm (1.97 inch), diameter of rim 70 mm (2.76 inch). diameter of footring 40 mm (1.57 inch) 

 

Covered box on footring nearly vertical sides, domed cover with knob. Decorated in underglaze blue with broad panels filled with flowering stems and narrow panels filled with ribbons. The cover, with everted rim, is decorated en suite. On the base a hand written number '52', most likely an old collectors number.

 

After dishes the largest category of Swatow ware found in Indonesia is boxes. Most covered boxes/jars were found in Sulawesi, Indonesia. There these boxes are named tempat bedak, or powder boxes; this must have been their main function. Volker noted that the name boxese in the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) archives is boreh-boreh. Boreh is the Javanese term for powder kept as small dry pills which are mixed with water for instant use. (Adhyatman 1999, p.30)

  

For a similarly decorated covered jar, please see:

Condition: A frit to the rim of the box.

 

Reference:

Adhyatman 1999, cat. 176b

 

Price: Sold.

 

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201064
201064

Sold Ceramics - Sold Zhangzhou (Swatow) wares 1570-1650 - Other wares - Page 1

 

Object 201064

 

Covered box

 

(Southeast) China, Zhangzhou (Swatow)

 

1570-1650

 

Height 56 mm (2.21 inch), diameter 70 mm (2.76 inch), diameter box rim 60 mm (2.36 inch), diameter cover rim 65 mm (2.56 inch), diameter of footring 39 mm (1.54 inch), weight with cover 133 grams (7.90 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 54 grams (1.91 ounce (oz.))

 

Covered box on a footring. Decorated in underglaze blue with four chrysanthemums enclosed by leafy scrolls. On the cover a central chrysanthemum surrounded by four other chrysanthemums enclosed by leafy scrolls. On the base an old paper collectors label that reads: 'T5 13'.

 

After dishes the largest category of Swatow ware found in Indonesia is boxes. Most covered boxes/jars were found in Sulawesi, Indonesia. There these boxes are named tempat bedak, or powder boxes; this must have been their main function. Volker noted that the name boxese in the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) archives is boreh-boreh. Boreh is the Javanese term for powder kept as small dry pills which are mixed with water for instant use. (Adhyatman 1999, p.30)

 

For a pair of identically decorated covered boxes, please see:

 For a similarly decorated covered box, please see:

Condition: A small glaze chip to the rim of the cover.

 

References:

Wiesner 1983, cat. 63-65

Adhyatman 1999, cat. 169

 

Price: Sold.

 

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