TIANQI or CHONGZHEN c.1620 – 1640 Transitional Porcelain

A Rare Late Ming Blue and White Porcelain Dish for the Japanese Market, Transitional, Tianqi 1621-1627 or Chongzhen 1628-1644. Decorated with a Cockerel with a Hen in a Landscape with Bamboo, the Cavetto with a Fukizumi Ground. The Base with a Fuku Mark in `Running Script` within a Double Square (Shown upside down in the photograph).

The Fuku Mark within a double square is frequently found on 17th century Japanese porcelain but is very rarely found on late Ming porcelain for the Japanese market. It shows that the Chinese potters were not just copying a Japanese drawing but were making the porcelain appear Japanese by adding Japanese marks as well. However, this mark is found on Japanese porcelain made towards the end of the 17th century, not at this period, this raises several questions. Did the Chinese copy it from a different type of Japanese object, lacquer or pottery for example or is there another explanation. I really don`t know.

Diameter : 16 cm (6 1/4 inches)
Stock number
For a set of five very similar Ming porcelain dishes see : The Peony Pavilion Collection, Chinese Tea Ceramics for Japan (c.1580-1650). Christie`s London 12th June 1989, lot 250.



Ming Porcelain for Japan :
During the late Ming Period the Chinese made a large among of porcelain for the Japanese market, it 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.

Fukizumi / Powder-Blue Decoration :
This type of decoration is associated with the Kangxi period but its origins can be traced to the end of the Ming Dynasty, during the reigns of Tianqi and Chongzhen. Indeed these pieces are a revival of an early Ming technique that seems to have been abandoned or lost at about the time of Xuande. The late Ming examples comprise a group of dishes made at the Jingdezhen kilns during the second quarter of the 17th century. They use an uneven blue ground of a mottled appearance (see `Sold Items` 19206 and 17133), referred to as `Fukizumi` in Japanese they have the characteristics of what we now call powder blue. It was during the Kangxi (1662-1722) that the technique became refined and combined with gilding, Famille Verte or other over-glaze colours. Powder-blue glazes are somewhat different from other Qing blue glazes in that the cobalt was not mixed with the glaze. Instead, it was blown dry onto the biscuit body of the porcelain by using a piece of gauze stretches over the end of a bamboo tube. The result is a somewhat frothy soft effect. Paper or wax resist were used to reserve areas from the blue that could then be decorated after glazing.