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Curator's Choice – Moonflask with the Eight Buddhist Emblems

Moonflask with design of the eight Buddhist emblems in doucai technique
Moonflask with design of the eight Buddhist emblems in doucai technique on yellow ground
Mark and period of Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty

During the Qianlong reign (1736-1795) of the Qing dynasty, the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province produced a considerable amount of fine porcelain for the imperial courts. One piece of medium-sized moonflask collected by the Museum of Art clearly demonstrates the characteristics of the Qianlong era and the high quality of ceramics production. The balanced vessel form, elaborate patterns and splendid colours are typical of Qianlong ceramics. Different glazing techniques are used on this vessel. The design inside the round panel is painted in doucai technique, which is a combination of underglaze blue and overglaze colours. Some of the outlines are painted in gold to give a glimmering effect.

The design of the porcelain was usually provided to the kilns by the royal courts. On this vessel, the auspicious emblems including the fish, the canopy, the precious umbrella, the endless knot, the conch shell, the wheel of law, the lotus and the flask itself representing the treasure bottle, symbolise the eight auspicious objects of Buddhism. The ruyi-cloud motis and bat ("fu", a rebus for blessings) depicted on the yellow ground (an emblematic colour designated for imperial use) add up to a strong sense of auspice.

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