VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Arrow vase
NO 16
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

It is a pear-shaped vase on a high foot and a long neck. Around the body and the base of the neck, there are six appliqué vertical blocks; at the top of the neck around the mouth there are six upright hollow cylinders. It is decorated in underglaze blue and yellow and green overglaze. Around the body there are six circles with Arabic texts between clouds and ruyi-motifs. Arrow vases were considered important objects by the Chinese upper classes. The fact that this vase is decorated with Arabic texts indicates that it was made for an Islamic customer. It was probably intended as a decorative object or a gift for a high-ranking Islamic official in China.

History of the Object
The shape of this vase, with cylinders around the neck, indicates that this vase was made after a metal example used as a target during a game of shooting small arrows. This ancient Chinese game originated when archery was one of the six arts of a civilized gentleman. The participants had to follow clearly defined rules when shooting arrows into bronze or iron vases or into the cylinders round the rim. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) this particular game was a popular pastime among men and women of the upper classes. During this archery game it was more important to adhere to the subtle etiquette in the complex rituals surrounding the game, than it was to win. Rank and ages of the participants were paramount within these rituals.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
porcelain, underglaze-blue, overglaze yellow and green 
Measurements
height 25 cm, diameter 13 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 16th century ~ AD 16th century 
Creation date
16th Century; 1550-1600; Ming Dynasty 
Function
The form of this vase is based on a metal example, which was used as a target during a game of shooting small arrows. This vase however was probably used as a flower vase. 
Acquisition
Acquired in 1928 from antique dealer, M. Keezer & Zn. (Amsterdam), by the founder of the museum, Nanne Ottema (1874-1955). The collection records state that the dealer acquired this piece in Indonesia. 
Copyright
Keramiekmuseum Princessehof 
Acknowledgements
C.J.A. Jörg (ed.), “Oosters Porselein in Nederland: vier museumcollecties”, Groningen 2003, cat.no. 35. 
Owner
Ottema-Kingma Stichting, on long term loan Keramiekmuseum Princessehof. 
Museum
Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden 
Credit line
Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands 

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