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Stem Cup for an Altar
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Stem Cup for an Altar

Description Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description The stem cup shape, dating to the Yuan dynasty, appears here in porcelain for a Buddhist altar. This cup, dating to the reign of Qianlong (1735-1795), resembles a set of stem cups of the same period gifted to the museum in 1983 by Mrs. P. R. Lyne [WALTERS 49.2514, 49.2515, 29.2516]. Painted in underglaze cobalt blue are Tibetan letters mounted above lotus blossoms and surrounded by foliated patterns that coil around each character. At the joint of the cup and the trumpet shaped foot are alternating fan motifs. Beaded tassels dangle down the sides of the everted foot from Ruyi heads, heart shaped motifs resembling the head of the curved ruyi scepter carried by Buddhist deities and symbolic of monastic authority. The interior is painted with a stylized flowerhead. The rich Buddhist symbolism suggests their use. The emperor of the Qianlong reign (1736-96) was a great patron of the arts, commissioning and supporting production of monumental, literary, and domestic works. Blue and white porcelain of this period draws from Xuande (1425-35) wares and exhibits a crisp and controlled elegance of decoration. Blue and white porcelain was popularized in China by the Mongol emperors during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Trade along The Silk Road meant access to Middle Eastern imports, including Persian and Central Asian cobalt ore that facilitated the porcelain production from the 14th to the early 15th century. Domestic sources of cobalt ore, including the vibrant Buddha Head blue, replaced or were mixed with the expensive imported cobalt. The kilns of Jingdezhen were the center for export and Imperial blue and white porcelain.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese Porcelain. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1980-1981.
Provenance William T. or Henry Walters Collection, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Inscriptions [Reign Mark] In blue underglaze: Qianlong; Tibetan letters
Credit Acquired by William T. or Henry Walters

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porcelain with underglaze blue
Accession Number
H: 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm)
  • China (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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