Charger With Foliate Rim And Peacock Decoration
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

In the fourteenth century, potters at Jingdezhen mastered the technique of decorating porcelains with cobalt blue pigment under a colorless glaze, producing a refined ceramic ware that is revered for its beauty and fine potting. Chinese sophisticates of the day, however, steeped in the earlier Song dynasty (960–1279) taste for subtly hued monochromes, tended to disdain blue-and-white wares, relegating them to the low-status export market. Both the large size of this charger and its short, unintelligible inscription in Arabic script (tucked amid the molded floral decoration at the two o’clock position) suggest that this vessel was made for sale abroad. The designs on fourteenth-century blue-and-white wares were typically drawn from illustrations in contemporaneous woodblock-printed books. This charger’s central medallion features a peacock; he is positioned in a Chinese garden, with a standing screen (its corner is visible at the upper right) and other garden elements such as the rock, bamboo, and flowers.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Charger with Foliate Rim and Peacock Decoration
Work Type
mid-14th century
Creation Place: East Asia, China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Yuan dynasty, 1279-1368
Level 2, Room 2600, East Asian Art, East Asian Painting and Decorative Arts
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Physical Descriptions
Blue-and-white ware: porcelain with decoration painted in underglaze cobalt blue and with molded decoration on the rim and cavetto
Blue-and-white ware
Diam. 48.8 cm (19 3/16 in.)
Richard B. Hobart, Cambridge, MA (by 1961), Gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1961.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Richard B. Hobart
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

John Ayers, "Early Chinese Blue and White", Oriental Art (1951), vol. III, pp. 135-141

John Ayers, "Some Characteristic Wares of the Yüan Dynasty", Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society (1954 -1955), vol. XXIX, pl. 43

Sherman E. Lee and Wai-kam Ho, Chinese Art Under the Mongols: The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, OH, 1968), cat. no. 150

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), no. 40, p. 41

Victor Mair, Paul Goldin, and Nancy Steinhardt, ed., Hawai'i Reader in Traditional Chinese Culture, University of Hawaii Press (Honolulu, Hawaii, 2005), color plate no. 96

Exhibition History

Chinese Art Under the Mongols, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, 10/01/1968 - 11/24/1968

Transformations: Asia East and West, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/19/1992 - 02/14/1993

Rocks, Mountains, Landscapes, and Gardens: The Essence of East Asian Painting (1997), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/15/1997 - 09/21/1997

Rocks, Mountains, Landscapes and Gardens: The Essence of East Asian Painting ('04), Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 01/31/2004 - 08/01/2004

Cultivating Virtue: Botanical Motifs and Symbols in East Asian Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/08/2006 - 04/08/2007

Downtime, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/28/2007 - 04/20/2008

32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

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