Dish with design of "Three Friends"

  • Porcelain with cobalt pigment under clear, colorless glaze
  • 6.8 x 15.3 cm
  • 19th-early 20th century, Qing dynasty
  • Origin: Fujian province or Guangdong province, China
  • Provenance: Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Gift of Dorothy M. Slak
  • F1986.38


Small dish with raised edges and design of "Three Friends."
Clay: porcelain.
Glaze: clear, greyish.
Decoration: hastily painted in underglaze cobalt, bright clear blue: single lines just below rim and between rim and bottom; central design of rocks, bamboo, winter prunus, and peony or sweet pea.
Mark: none.

Curatorial Remarks

1. Gift of Ms. Dorothy M. Slak, Sarasota, Florida. Acquired by Ms. Slak in Jakarta, Indonesia, circa 1968. (Original folder sheet note indicates name of source and location at date of acquisition. Source address listed in this record is most current.)

2. (L.A. Cort, 1986) The identification of the decorative motifs and the dating follow William Willetts in Nonya Ware and Kitchen Ch'ing, The Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, West Malaysia Chapter, and Oxford University Press, 1981, p. 10 and pl. 33 (which has a two-character mark on the base).

3. (Peter Y. K. Lam, Director, Art Museum, Chinese University of Hong Kong; 9 August 2000) Such dishes were made at the kiln in Hong Kong that operated from the sixteenth century through the 1930s. The kiln is mentioned in British records. It was part of the production complex of coastal Fujian and Guangdong, and there is no way to distinguish its products from those of other kilns within the same complex. The design is an extremely simplified "three friends."

4. (Louise Cort, 27 July 2006) Added Title, Dish with design of "Three Friends". To Origin added Fujian or Guangdong province.

5. (Louise Cort, 27 May 2007) On view at the Binh Duong Museum, Tu Dau Mot, among a group of Chinese ceramics use within this province and dated to the 19th-20th century, is a small dish of this type.

6. (Louise Cort, 5 June 2007) The Quang Ngai Provincial Museum, Quang Ngai, holds the report and many of the finds from the excavation of the My Cang kiln site, Tinh Thien village, Son Tinh district, across the river to the north of Quang Ngai. Dishes of this type were uncovered from the kiln site, together with the unglazed stoneware utilitarian vessels produced by the kiln. The site also yielded Vietnamese coins, which were identified by the museum staff as "18th century." The kiln was said to have operated in the 18th-19th century.

7. (Louise Cort, 17 March 2008) Dishes of this type were made at kilns in Guangdong province in the late 19th-early 20th century (late Qing-early Republic period) (Yang 1990, 5, plate 2-5).

Yang Shaoxiang. 1990. A preliminary study of Guangdong blue-and-white wares. Pp. 1-13 (1-12 Chinese; 13 English summary) in Ancient Ceramic Kiln Technology, edited by Ho Chuimei. Hong Kong: Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong.

8. (Louise Cort, 10 October 2012) In the collection of Mr. Liu Chengji, deputy Director, Guangdong Municipal Museum, was a dish of this type but larger in diameter (17.3 cm). According to Mr. Liu, such dishes were locally made in large quantities in the 19th century, as well as at kilns in Guangxi, and Fujian provinces and in Jingdezhen. They are so abundant that even now they are quite cheap in the market, selling for 300 yuan (formerly 100 yuan).

9. (Louise Cort, 13 October 2012) A dish of this type on view in the Shenzhen Museum, Guangdong province, was identified as made in southern Fujian or eastern Guangdong province and dated to the 19th century. It was among a group of amber-glazed jars and blue-and-white wares excavated from tombs in Guangdong province.

10. (Louise Cort, 30 November 2015) Dishes of this type were collected as surface finds from Pulau Saigon, a site along the Singapore River used for dumping refuse during the nineteenth century and inhabited until the 1980s (Barry 2000, figure 17).

Jennifer Barry. 2000. Pulau Saigon: A post-eighteenth century archaeological assemblage recovered from a former island in the Singapore River. Stamford, England: The Rheidol Press.

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