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  • Place of origin:

    Jingdezhen (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1690-1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain painted in underglaze blue

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 49

This impressive vase shows Chinese blue and white at its technological best. The decoration illustrates a popular love story, 'The West Chamber', in each of the panels, arranged in four rows, showing an important episode. Scenes from the drama that were executed on paper or silk would have provided a valuable source of inspiration for potters in Jingdezhen. It was made during a time of social stability and prosperity. The 'Rebellion of the Three Feudatories' led by General Wu Sangui against the Emperor Kangxi had finally been crushed. The rebellion had completely stopped porcelain production at Jingdezhen from 1674 to 1676, but in 1680 a group of state officials was sent to re-establish the imperial ceramic factory, and with the end of civil war foreign trade was resumed.

Kangxi, who ruled from 1662 to 1722, was the longest reigning emperor in the country's history. Under his rule China's relationship with Europe was also at its best. The fact that a Jesuit missionary, Père d'Entrecolles (1664-1741), was able to observe porcelain production first-hand at Jingdezhen in 1712 and again in 1722 clearly demonstrates that Europeans were allowed greater freedom than at later times.

A large number of tall vases made between1685 and 1720 was shipped to Europe, where 'oriental porcelain rooms' were in fashion. The shape of this vase is not one produced specifically for the European market, but several such vases were acquired for the 'Japanese Palace' porcelain collections of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, before 1721 (see p.90). This highlights the fact that the division between 'export' and 'domestic' wares is not always straightforward and clear cut.

Physical description

Vase made of porcelain, with cylindrical body and tall neck, painted with underglaze blue decoration. The body is entirely decorated with rectangular panels containing figurative scenes arranged in four large horizontal bands. The 24 scenes have been identified as being from The Story of the Western Chamber (Xixiang ji). Double-lined circle painted in underglaze blue on the base.

Place of Origin

Jingdezhen (made)


ca. 1690-1700 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Porcelain painted in underglaze blue


Height: 75.0 cm, Diameter: 22.4 cm

Descriptive line

Vase with scenes from Xi Xiang Ji, porcelain painted in underglaze colbolt blue, China, Jingdezhen, Qing dynasty, about 1690-1700

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. 84-85.

Labels and date

Blue-and-white vase
China, Jingdezhen

This vase shows Chinese blue-and-white at its most technically impressive. The decoration illustrates a popular love story. The vase was made during the reign of Kangxi, China’s longestruling emperor. Kangxi brought stability to China and encouraged the manufacture of ceramics for export. This vase was made not specifically for the West, but is of a type recorded in European princely collections.

Porcelain, painted under the glaze

Museum no. C.859-1910
George Salting Bequest [September 2009]


Porcelain; Cobalt


Underglazing; Painted

Subjects depicted

僧關假館; 崔夫人; 唱和東牆; 月下佳期; 孫飛虎; 草橋驚夢; 潰圍請救; 回音喜慰; 對謔琴紅; 琴心寫恨; 亂倡綠林; 乘夜踰垣; 秋暮離懷; 紅娘; 情傳錦字; 崔鶯鶯; 家門正傳; 東閣邀賓; 回春東藥; 飛虎授首; 第二折 (第一本); 杜确; 金蘭判袂; 惠明; 堂前巧辯; 佛殿奇逢; 張君瑞


Vases; Ceramics


East Asia Collection

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