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Wine Jar with Fish and Aquatic Plants

Asian Art

On View: Great Hall, Center, 1st floor
This masterpiece of Chinese porcelain is an important example of early blue-and-white ware from the imperially sponsored kilns of Jingdezhen. Four energetic fish—mackerel, whitefish, carp, and freshwater perch—are depicted swimming along the hips of the vessel; their Chinese names form a rebus for the phrase qingbai lianjie, meaning “honest and incorruptible.” The twisting leaves and stems of the eelgrass, blossoming lotuses, and other flora elegantly frame the fish and re-create the teeming pulse of a lush aquarium. The visual wordplay suggests that the jar may have been made for an elite clientele who, it was hoped, would be inspired by the rebus’s message of rectitude while drinking their wine.
MEDIUM Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 14th century
    DYNASTY Yuan Dynasty
    PERIOD Yuan dynasty
    DIMENSIONS 11 15/16 x 13 3/4in. (30.3 x 34.9cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Great Hall, Center, 1st floor
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 52.87.1
    CREDIT LINE The William E. Hutchins Collection, Bequest of Augustus S. Hutchins
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Wine Jar with Fish and Aquatic Plants, 14th century. Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration, 11 15/16 x 13 3/4in. (30.3 x 34.9cm). Brooklyn Museum, The William E. Hutchins Collection, Bequest of Augustus S. Hutchins, 52.87.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 52.87.1_side1_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE side, 52.87.1_side1_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Oviform jar, heavy porcelain body with transparent glaze and underglaze painting in cobalt blue of four fish amid lotus blossoms and aquatic plants. Unglazed base with broad foot rim. Waves encircle the neck. Except for small firing imperfections, condition is excellent. Jingdezhen ware porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue decoration.
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