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  • Place of origin:

    Shiwan, China (made)

  • Date:

    1860-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stoneware, with blue glaze splashed with red

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, room 125c, case 1

Object Type
The shape of this vase, with a dragon coiling around its neck, occurs in both bronze and porcelain during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), while the vari-coloured glaze recalls glazes used on pots during the Song dynasty (960-1279). Thus both form and glaze suggest ancient objects. The collecting of antiques in 19th-century China was accompanied by an interest in modern objects that made references to antiquity.

This type of ware was made at kilns in the town of Shiwan, near Canton (Guangzhou). Shiwan wares are difficult to date precisely, but a peak in production occurred in the last decades of the 19th century. Many pieces were exported, for the kilns were close to both the port of Canton and the British colony of Hong Kong.

Materials & Making
Shiwan wares employed durable, high-firing stoneware clays that were dug locally. They are typified by exotic, splashed glazes in brilliant colours. Glazes coloured with different minerals were applied by dipping, painting or pouring. Careful control of firing temperatures and kiln atmospheres was crucial.

Place of Origin

Shiwan, China (made)


1860-1900 (made)


Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Stoneware, with blue glaze splashed with red


Height: 16.5 cm maximum, Width: 13.5 cm maximum

Object history note

Made at the Shiwan kilns in Guangdong Province, China

Labels and date

British Galleries:

Both the form of the blue Chinese vase with its coiled dragon applied around the neck, and the colour-splashed glaze, are similar to ancient styles of Chinese ceramics. The blue vase was made at kilns near Canton, Guangzhou, that supplied many wares for overseas markets owing to their geographical closeness to the port of Hong Kong. The designer at the Doulton art pottery studio in London may have known of similar examples when he made the brown vase. [27/03/2003]


Ceramics; Vases

Collection code


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