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Single-Handle Chocolate Pot with Famille-Rose and Gold-Outlined Family Arms

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Period: Qianlong reign (1736–1795), Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Dimensions: Dimensions: overall height: 19 cm; mouth diameter: 7 cm; foot diameter: 10.4 cm

This pot has the overall shape of a deep jar with a straight mouth as well as a single handle and curved spout. The handle and spout are positioned asymmetrically at a ninety-degree angle. The lid is shaped as a parasol and has a peach-shaped knob. The entire pot is covered in white glaze. The rim and the edge of the lid are embellished with gold stars on a blue-ground band. The central design has a colorful over-glaze coat of arms. The arms have the overall outline of a shield surrounded with an elegant border and feature a centrally inscribed S, which probably represents the surname of the customer who ordered the piece.

The pot is a classic example of export ceramics made during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Popular as a new style in eighteenth-century Europe, the shape is derived from a type of Western pot with a silver handle typically used for holding hot chocolate.

The armorial design found on the pot does not represent noble European lineage but is an example of pseudo-armorial porcelain made for the European market in the eighteenth century, which does not adhere to traditional heraldry and was never inspected by a reputable institute of heraldry. Indeed, these designs were ordered for production in China by newly wealthy middle-class families who wanted sets of ceramics with personalized symbolism. The arms were typically designed as a standard overall design and personalized with the first letter of the family surname. The Reeves Collection at Washington and Lee University has a chocolate pot with a similar shape and ornamentation but with the central abbreviation of JEA, which indicates that a separate customer ordered a vessel with the same standard design.

The piece was donated to the Palace Museum in 2005 by the Volvo Group, Volvo Trucks Greater China.

Chinese entry by Sun Yue
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu

 

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