Zhangzhou ware covered box with design of rabbit in moon

  • Porcelain with cobalt pigment under clear, colorless glaze
  • 3.2 x 4.3 x 4.3 cm
  • Zhangzhou ware
  • late 16th-early 17th century, Ming dynasty
  • Origin: Zhangzhou kilns, Fujian province, China
  • Provenance: Jakarta, Java, Indonesia
  • Gift of Dean Frasché
  • F1989.5a-b


Covered box with domed rim, tapering body and recessed foot.
Clay: porcelain, cream on rim, buff on base.
Glaze: translucent white with bluish cast; interior glazed except for rim, base partially glazed; scars of stacking material on edge of foot.
Decoration: incised single horizontal grooves at upper edge of body and lower edge of lid. Incised vertical grooves, closely spaced, on body between horizontal groove on foot and on lid between horizonal line and painted decoration. In center of lid, in grayish-blue underglaze cobalt, ring enclosing design of rabbit glancing at edge of moon, with blue wash background.
Mark: none.

Curatorial Remarks

1.  (L.A. Cort, 1989) A similar rabbit appears in a medallion in the bottom of a bowl with an authentic six-character mark of the Jiajing period (1522–1566; Carswell 1985, no. 45). "According to Chinese tradition, the hare lives on the moon and sits under the shade of an olea fragrans tree, pounding the elixir of life with a pestle and mortar" (ibid., 103).

Carswell, John. 1985. Blue and White: Chinese Porcelain and Its Impact on the Western World: catalogue of an exhibition at the David and Alfred Smart Gallery, The University of Chicago, October 3–December 1, 1985. Chicago: The David and Alfred Smart Gallery.

2.  (Louise Cort, 29 August 2006) Changed Date from 16th century to Late 16th–Early 17th century, in accordance with label text.

Covered boxes of this type found in Indonesia are illustrated in Adhyatman 1999, nos. 164–167. They range in diameter from 4 cm to 18 cm. No. 165c, diam. 4 cm, bears a rabbit design. It and four others are said to have been found in South Sulawesi.

Adhyatman, Sumarah. 1999. Zhangzhou (Swatow) ceramics: sixteenth to seventeenth centuries found in Indonesia Jakarta: The Ceramic Society of Indonesia.

3. (Najiba Choudhury, 10/28/2014) transferred from the Provenance text field: "Collected by Dean Frasche donor in Djakarta, Indonesia in 1959. Dated by him to the 14th-15th century."

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