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  • Place of origin:

    Jingdezhen (made)
    Canton (decorated)

  • Date:

    ca. 1760-1770 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain decorated with overglaze enamels and gilding

  • Credit Line:

    Gulland Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 13, shelf 7

This dish, made at the Jingdezhen kilns in southern China, is decorated with a Masonic scene, and was probably specially commissioned by a mason or a lodge. The original design may have been taken from an engraving by William Tringham made in 1755. In the scene three figures stand around a wooden box, or the Ark, symbol of the Lodge, looking at plans; close to them are the mason's tools: the gavel, square, compass, level and plumb-rule, which respectively stand for power, morality, God's justice, equality, and uprightness.

The same design appears on other export porcelain, and may represent the constitution of a new lodge. In 1764, Lord Blayney founded in London a Masonic sect called 'The Moderns', and attempted to reconcile the differences with other groups. It has been suggested that the service to which this dish belongs may have recorded such an event.

Physical description

Porcelain octagonal dish decorated in overglaze enamels and gilding with three standing figures standing on a tesselated pavement and examining a scroll with plans; in the foreground is a wooden block with masons's tools: the gavel, square, compass, level and plum-rule; in the sky are the sun and the moon.

Place of Origin

Jingdezhen (made)
Canton (decorated)


ca. 1760-1770 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Porcelain decorated with overglaze enamels and gilding


Diameter: 21.1 cm taken from register, Diameter: 8.33 in

Descriptive line

Porcelain dish decorated in overglaze enamels with a masonic scene, China, Qing dynasty, ca. 1760-1770

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Clunas, Craig (ed.). Chinese Export Art and Design. London:Victoria and Albert Museum, 1987, p. 66, fig. 50.

Labels and date

Porcelain decorated in Canton with overglaze enamels
Three masters examining plans of a masonic lodge.
From an English engraving
About 1760-1770
Gulland Bequest [1987]




Overglazing; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Justice; Authority; Morality; Wands; Equality; Compasses; Masons' levels; Figures; Rules (measuring devices); Carpenters' squares


Porcelain; Ceramics; Food vessels & Tableware; Religion


East Asia Collection

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