VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Blue-and-white Flat Bottle with Sea Wave and Dragon Designs
Blue-and-white Flat Bottle with Sea Wave and Drago
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The bottle has a round mouth slightly flared along the edge, a long neck that widens gradually, a flat body and an oval base. The entire object is decorated with blue-and-white designs. There are curled grass and entwining lotus around the mouth and neck and blue sea waves and a white dragon on the body. The fierce white dragon swimming in a boundless sea with its head turned back, whiskers fluttering and claws extended looks as if it is about to come to life. The surging and turbulent waves with dark spots appear to be rushing towards the viewer and set off the white dragon in bold relief. The white dragon is brought to life by painting its eyes blue. There was a saying during the Xuande period that “Of all the decorations, blue-and-white is the best.” The decoration on this bottle was made by outlining the dragon and its eyes, mane, thick lips, teeth, claws and scales with a pointed tool on the biscuit and painting the surging sea waves around the dragon in blue. The whole bottle was then coated with a transparent glaze before firing it in a high-temperature kiln.

History of the Object
History books say that most of the blue-and-white porcelain objects of the Xuande period were made with the smalt brought back by Zheng He, commander of the Chinese ocean-going fleet in the Ming Dynasty, from the Western oceans. It was a deep and bright blue like the color of sapphire. The lines painted in this color are often blurred on the edge like the ink in a Chinese ink-and-wash painting. Together with the orderly arranged dark spots, the decoration painted in this color has an extraordinary artistic effect.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
porcelain 
Measurements
Height: 45.3 cm, mouth diameter: 7.8 cm, foot diameter: 14.5 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 15th century ~ AD 15th century 
Creation date
15th C.; the Xuande Reign (1426-1436), Ming dynasty (1368-1644) 
Function
bottle 
Acquisition
Collection of the Imperial Palace 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Palace Museum, Beijing 
Museum
The Palace Museum 
Credit line
Palace Museum, Beijing 

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