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Teapot and lid

Teapot and lid

  • Place of origin:

    Dehua (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1650-1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain with clear glaze

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 48 []

This teapot was made at Dehua, of white porcelain known as 'blanc de Chine' in the west. One side is very subtly incised with a design of rocks and plants, and the other with a poetic couplet that reads: 'At night in springtime one moment is precious like a thousand pieces of gold, the orchid sends forth its fragrance in the shade of the moon.' These are the first two lines from a poem by the famous eleventh-century writer Su Shi. It might be assumed from this that the teapot had been commissioned by a scholar. However, Chinese scholars traditionally preferred the 'purple sand' teapots from Yixing, not white ones from Dehua. Examples in Dehua porcelain were probably made after the kilns diversified into tea-ware production, following demands from European merchants for European shapes. Dehua wares were closely copied at European porcelain factories, notably Meissen, Chantilly and Bow. Ceramic historians argue that Dehua's raw materials are superior to those of Jingdezhen, but the kilns had no access to water transportation and until the arrival of European merchants most of its productions were sold locally.

The base is inscribed with the name of the Emperor Xuande, who reigned from 1426 to 1435, more than 250 years before the teapot was made. The use of earlier reign marks has a long history in China, much t the vexation of modern researchers, and was intended to indicate respect rather than to deceive. The teapot's bold geometric design anticipates the forms of European modernism by more than two centuries.

Physical description

White teapot with spherical body, straight tapering spout, circular handle and slightly domed lid with knop. Teapot body lightly incised Chinese characters.

Place of Origin

Dehua (made)


ca. 1650-1700 (made)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Porcelain with clear glaze

Marks and inscriptions

'Xuande' incised on base

春宵一刻值千金 花有清香月有陰
Poem by Su Shi


Height: 11.0 cm, Width: 18.5 cm

Descriptive line

Teapot and lid, Dehua ware; Dehua, China, about 1620-1700, Ming-Qing dynasty

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

Liefkes, Reino and Hilary Young (eds.) Masterpieces of World Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publishing, 2008, pp. 86-87.

Labels and date

White teapot
China, Dehua

The potter has incised a landscape on one side of this teapot. The other has a couplet from a poem by Su Shi describing the fragrance of orchids in the moonlight on a springtime night. The quotation may indicate that the pot was intended for a Chinese scholar, although scholars usually preferred the ‘purple sand’ teapots from Yixing. The bold geometric design anticipates European modernism by more than two centuries.

Porcelain, with ivory-coloured glaze

Museum no. Circ.62&A-1931
W.G. Gulland Bequest [September 2009]






Ph_survey; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares; Ceramics


East Asia Collection

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