Pair of Rare Chinese Export Porcelain Salts, Kangxi c.1700

A pair of rare Kangxi porcelain salts c.1690-1720. The blue and white export porcelain salt holders are moulded as a flattened fish with a shallow indentation to take the salt. This pair of Chinese export porcelain salts are of a highly unusual shape, despite their Western form it is perhaps unlikely they derive directly from a European model. Rather they are a novelty made for export to Europe.


The corner of one of the fishes tails has a chip c.8 x 6 mm.
Length : 8.8 cm (3 1/2 inches) Height : 5.9 cm (2 1/3 inches)
Stock number



Fish / Yu :
The Chinese word for fish `Yu` is pronounced in the same way as the word for abundance. So fish have come to represent prosperity and the carp is often represented as sign of success because of its perseverance, swimming up river. Pairs of fish swimming together, representing marital bliss, were common from the Southern Song (1128-1279) but it was in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) that fish swimming with aquatic plants became a common subject, the patterns were based on popular designs found in Southern China. Some of the earliest Chinese blue and white porcelain (c.1320-1350) depicts fish swimming with plants, frequently lotus as this represented purity. These Yuan designs were shown in the center of bowls and dishes surrounded by concentric geometric borders.It was not until the 16th century that freer, more open designs of fish swimming among sea weed and crabs were popular.