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Blue and White Gourd-Ribbed Kundika with Chrysanthemum Roundels

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Period: Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Dimensions: height: 19 cm; mouth diameter: 3 cm; foot diameter: 6.5 cm

This kundika (Chinese junchi) has a straight mouth rim atop a rounded ring on a long neck. The body is fashioned in the shape of a six-rib gourd and features a breast-shaped spout connected at the intersection of the shoulder and body. The vessel rests atop a round foot. The entire kundika is covered in a white glaze and is embellished with blue and white designs. The bottom of the foot is unglazed. From top to bottom, the neck and shoulder have cloud, plantain leaf, floral, and coin patterns. Each of the six sides of the body is embellished with a different floral roundel. The underside is marked with a blue rabbit within two blue and white circles. Additionally, a large inscription written in red reads, “H.W.T. 178”. The abbreviation H.W.T. stands for the name Han Wai Toon (Han Huaizhun, 1892–1970), who for a time served as a ceramics expert at the Palace Museum.

Artisan markings or production markings without written inscriptions on ceramics are known as design-ciphers (huaya kuan, lit. “design signature”) and are typically found on products made at folk kilns. The word huaya was used originally to indicate a signature or a symbol replacing a signature on a written agreement. These markings became popularly used during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties with commonly seen designs including Buddhist symbols like wheels, conchs, parasols, banners, flowers, vases, fish, and knots; Daoist symbols such as returning-soul fans (huanhun shan), swords, calabashes, flower baskets, fishing drums (yugu), flutes, and lotus; flora and fauna including dragons, phoenixes, deer, turtles, cranes, evergreens, bamboo, plum, Ganoderma fungi (lingzhi), auspicious grass (ruicao), and wormwood (aiye); archaic designs like the Eight Trigrams (Bagua), Supreme Ultimate (Taiji), Eight Treasures, Eight Instruments, Qin zithers, chess pieces, calligraphy, or paintings; “dried bean curd” designs (i.e., alternating vertical and horizontal lines within two squares); or “four flower” designs (i.e., four character-like designs or four flowers within two circles).

This kundika was donated to the Palace Museum by Han Wai Toon.

Chinese entry by Han Qian
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu

 

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