QIANLONG 1736 – 1795 Chinese Export Porcelain

An 18th Century Chinese Export Porcelain Plate, Probably Made for an English Colonial Family in India, Qianlong Period c.1760-1780. The Central Scene Depicts a Mahout with a Whip in his Hand Riding an Elephant with Four Puce Flower Sprays. The Border of Bianco-Sopra-Bianco with Small Flower-Heads.


A chip to the front edge restored, it appears to be c.10 x 4 mm, it has been 'over-sprayed' so it is difficult to determine the size of the chip. Small frits to the edges. The elephant is depicted in a pale grey, this is not due to wear as the gilding to central design is not worn.
Diameter : 22.5 cm (8 3/4 inches).
Stock number
For a very similar Chinese export porcelain plate decorated with the same subject and bianco-sopra-bianco border design see : Chinese Ceramics & Chinese Export Ceramics and Works of Art, Christie`s King Street 12 November 2002, lot 127, sold for £4,541. For another Chinese export porcelain plate with this design see : Chinese Porcelain in the Collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, The Ming and Qing Dynasties (Christiaan Jorg, Phillip Wilson, The Rijksmuseum, 1997) page 296, plate 348. For another plate but with a different border see : Chinese Export Ceramics (Rose Kerr, Luisa Mengoni, Ming Wilson, V&A Publishing 2011. ISBN 9781-85177-6320) page 114, plate 165. For a further Chinese export porcelain plate with a simialr but smaller central design and a wider and more ornate bianco-sopra-bianco border see : Chinese Export Porcelain in the Reeves Center Collection at Washington and Lee University (Thomas V. Litzenburg Jr. Third Millennium Publishing London 2003. ISBN 1-903942-19-5) page 67, plate 50.


Three Chinese export porcelain services with the design of a Mahout riding an elephant was ordered between about 1760 and 1790. Some, maybe the majority of the pieces, were made for the Colonial English in India but some were shipped back to England via Madras and Bombay.

This image of a Mahout on top of an elephant has been used on this years `Eight Days in June` publicity.

Bianco-Sopra-Bianco :
Meaning is Italian for white on white and refers to a thick white enamel on white porcelain. This decorating technique, probably inspired by Italian Maiolica and English Delftware, was popular on Chinese export porcelain during the 18th century.

Mahout :
A mahout is a person who drives an elephant. The word mahout comes from the Hindi words mahaut and mahavat. Usually, a mahout starts as a boy in the `family business` when he is assigned an elephant early in its life and they would be attached to each other throughout the elephant`s life.