TIANQI or CHONGZHEN c.1620 – 1640. Ming Porcelain

A Fine Late Ming Blue and White Porcelain Cup, Transitional, Tianqi or Chongzhen c.1620-1640, Possibly Made for the Japanese Market. From a Kiln in Jingdezhen, Possibly the Guanyinge Kiln (see references). Painted in a Strong Vibrant Clear Blue with a Rich Thick Copper Red. The Design, One Which is Frequently Found on Kraak Ware, is of Flowers and Fruit Including Lotus, Pomegranate and Peony. The Underglaze Copper Red is So Strong that it is Visible from the Inside of the Cup through the Porcelain. The Base with an Apocryphal Chenghua Mark, Ming Dynasty 1465 – 1487.


Very good, Mushikui (insect-nibbled) rim.
Diameter : 9 cm (3 1/2 inches)
Stock number
For a fragment of a rim with similar decoration recovered from the Guanyinge kiln site at Jingdezhen see : The Wanli Shipwreck and Its Ceramic Cargo (Sten Sjostrand, Sharipah Lok bt. Syed Idrus, National Museum of Malaysia, 2007. ISBN 967-9935-74-4) page 147. For a group of late Ming Porcelain dishes for the Japanese market with similar but different decoration dated to the second quarter of the 17th century see : The Peony Pavilion Collection : Chinese Tea Ceramics for Japan (c.1580-1650). Christie`s London 12th June 1989, Lots 346 and 347.



Apocryphal marks are frequently encountered on Chinese porcelain, particularly on Kangxi Blue and White Porcelain but also on Transitional porcelain like the present example. The mark of the Ming Emperor Chenghua who reigned from 1465 to 1487 being by far the most common, other Ming marks include Jiajing (1522-1566) and less frequently Wanli (1573-1620). These marks were not added to the piece to deceive, but more as a sign of reverence to earlier potters of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Occasionally they are used on pieces copying Ming Porcelain, these objects were probably made for collectors who could not afford the Ming original. Tianqi is an early period for such an apocryphal mark.

Ko-Sometsuke is a term used to describe Chinese blue and white porcelain made for Japan. This late Ming porcelain was made from the Wanli period (1573-1620) and ended in the Chongzhen period (1628-1644), the main period of production being the 1620`2 and 1630`s. The porcelain objects produced were made especially for the Japanese market, both the shapes and the designs were tailored to Japanese taste, the production process too allowed for Japanese aesthetics to be included in the finished object. Its seams firing faults were added, repaired tears in the leather-hard body were too frequent to not, in some cases, be deliberate. These imperfections as well as the fritting Mushikui (insect-nibbled) rims and kiln grit on the footrims all added to the Japanese aesthetic. The shapes created were often expressly made for the Japanese tea ceremony meal, the Kaiseki, small dishes for serving food at the tea ceremony are the most commonly encountered form. Designs, presumably taken from Japanese drawings sent to China, are very varied, often using large amount of the white porcelain contrasting well with the asymmetry of the design.