Description The dragon possesses a critical symbolic presence in its application on a variety of mediums, including decorated porcelains. Painted on the white porcelain of this tall ovoid vase are two dragons on either side, emerging from crested waves in pursuit of precious jewels. Dragons are often associated with the cardinal direction East and are considered lords of the skies and seas, as well as bringers of rain. They symbolize authority, strength, and goodness and therefore are considered emblematic of the emperor. The four clawed, two horned dragons are painted with brown bodies and blue manes, the waves from which they emerge are painted blue and crash upon celadon green rocks. Flames drawn in stylized lines flare from the dragon's scaly serpentine body; the head of the dragon is speculated to be a chimerical combination of the mane of a lion, the ears of a cow, the horns of a deer, and the barbels (or whiskers) of a carp or koi fish. These mystical creatures and their natural setting are etched into the paste of the porcelain and are painted with well controlled thin strokes accented with washes of pigment. This vase is recognized to be of Imperial quality. The year 1683 during the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) marks the return of the Imperial production of porcelain and the reinstitution of the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. A revival of imperial blue and white porcelain resulted in superbly crafted porcelains with well combined body, glaze, cobalt pigment, and skillful decoration. Refined blue cobalt allowed for adventurous and varied painting techniques, emulating watercolor on paper.
Provenance William T. or Henry Walters Collection, Baltimore, prior to 1896 [mode of acquisition unknown]; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Inscriptions [Reign Mark] In blue underglaze: da qing kang xi nian zhi
Credit Acquired by William T. Walters, before 1896
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