Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Jingdezhen (made)

  • Date:

    16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain painted in underglaze blue

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 143, The Timothy Sainsbury Gallery, case 34, shelf 1

This bowl was made at the kilns in Jingdezhen sometime between 1550 and 1575. The body is made of porcelain clay and it is decorated under the glaze with a cobalt blue design of pine, bamboo and plum blossom. The design is commonly known as the 'Three friends of winter'. These plants are said to flourish in even the most adverse conditions and are symbols of longevity, perseverance, and integrity, all of which are associated with the virtues of a scholar-gentleman. There is a four character mark on the base of the bowl enclosed in a double roundel, which reads, 'Xing lin chun yan'. This translates as 'Spring entertainment in the apricot grove'. Marks indicating a location or purpose for use, a commendation or commemoration are common on late Ming porcelains.

Physical description

Porcelain bowl with rounded sides and a tall footring. Painted in underglaze blue on the outside with a representation of the 'Three Friends of Winter': pine, bamboo and plum blossom. Inside, plum blossom in a medallion.

Place of Origin

Jingdezhen (made)


16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Porcelain painted in underglaze blue

Marks and inscriptions

'xing lin chun yan' in a double circle in underglaze blue
Spring entertainment in the apricot grove


Diameter: 14.3 cm, Height: 7.3 cm

Descriptive line

Bowl, porcelain painted in underglaze blue with the 'Three Friends of Winter', China, Ming dynasty, 16th century

Labels and date

Bowl with plum blossom, pine and bamboo.
Ming dynasty, 1550-75 []

Production Note



Porcelain; Cobalt oxide


Painted; Glazed; Blue and white

Subjects depicted

Flower (plum); Bamboo; Pine


Ceramics; Porcelain


East Asia Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.