Collections: Asian Art: Grand Imperial Vase

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    Grand Imperial Vase

    • Medium: Cloisonné enamel on copper alloy, gilt bronze, semi-precious stones
    • Place Made: China
    • Dates: 17th-mid 18th century
    • Dynasty: Late Ming Dynasty to Qing Dynasty
    • Period: Qianlong Era
    • Dimensions: 41 1/2 x 22 in. (105.4 x 55.9 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Asian Art
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 09.933.2
    • Credit Line: Gift of Samuel P. Avery
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Grand Imperial Vase, 17th-mid 18th century. Cloisonné enamel on copper alloy, gilt bronze, semi-precious stones, 41 1/2 x 22 in. (105.4 x 55.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Samuel P. Avery, 09.933.2. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: detail, middle section, 09.933.2_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Catalogue Description: Ta shu fu p'ing (grand imperial vase). Beaker shaped, in five sections, with archaic gilt bronze dragon and phoenix handles, richly studded with semi-precious stones. Trumpet-shaped neck, with turquoise-blue enamel ground, sustaining chrysanthemum flowers and varied border motives in typical Ming colors; the bulbous body below presents a similar turquoise-blue ground, with conventional lotus flowers and scrolling vines, interspersed with the familiar eight Buddhist emblems (pa chi-hsiang) of happy omen. The shoulder, finished by a deep blue lanceolated bordering, supports three projecting gilt bronze phoenix birds, with studding of semi-precious stones, matching the two dragon handles at the neck. The vase, raised upon three gilt bronze winged lions, rests upon a cloisonné stand, which bears a circular "shou" character in dark blue, surrounded by conventional lotus flowers and leafy scrolls in characteristic colors of its period. A homogenous ensemble is presented, with great decorative force. Special mark (surrounded by dragons) reads: "Ta Ming Ching-t'ai nien-chih," made in the reign of Emperor Ch'ing-tai (1450-1456) of the great Ming dynasty. From the palace of the Empress at Peking. (The above information is taken for the most part from the Getz catalogue of the Avery Cloisonné. Please note that the piece was dismantled in the spring of 1953 and is now in five different parts as curator felt center section (see photo) is earlier than the other segments.
    • Record Completeness: Best (82%)
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    Recent Comments
    16:54 09/9/2010
    The shape of this vessel in English has traditionally been known as a yen-yen vase. As best as I have been able to determine, this term is a European or American made-up word that is not a translation of any Chinese term, so there's no pinyin equivalent. Nor do I know for sure what the shape is called in Chinese. One Chinese antiquities expert told me is called a bajiao ping (plantain vase, presumably because of its resemblance to the flaring top of the plantain, or banana, tree).
    The 8 auspicious Buddhist symbols are not written as ba jixiang in Chinese pinyin. Cloisonne is called jingtailan (jingtai blue) because of its sudden popularity (creation?) during the reign of the Jingtai emperor (the older Wade-Giles spelling is Ching-t'ai, not Ch'ing-tai).
    I would encourage you to put the 5 pieces back together & display this. It's a surperb example of the shape, color, & craftmanship.
    Where's the mark (inscription)? I would like to know why a previous curator thought the midsection was earlier than the other pieces. The description doesn't say where the date mark (inscription)is located, but if it is other than on the midsection, how could the midsection be much older than the Jingtai reign? I don't know how long it took to create such a complex & technically difficult object (& for the royal family at that), but over a course of several years doesn't sound unreasonable. During that time, a master artisan might conceivably have died, or others may been been reassigned to different projects. Owing to the shape & age, the wear pattern is probably different. The mouth & shoulder probably were cleaned more often. If it's mostly of the Jingtai reign, that's about as old as it gets & merits dinstinction & display.
    By Doug White
    03:03 09/21/2010
    More than one person has told me that the shape in Chinese is known as fengwei zun (phoenix-tailed zun).
    By Doug White



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