Lobed Basin With Bracketed Foliate Rim And Three Cloud Scroll Feet
profile © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1942.185.51
Title
Lobed Basin with Bracketed Foliate Rim and Three Cloud Scroll Feet
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
probably 15th century
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, China, Henan province
Period
Ming dynasty, 1368-1644
Culture
Chinese
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Numbered Jun ware: light gray stoneware with variegated purple and blue glaze; with Chinese numeral 3 (san) inscribed on base before firing
Technique
Jun
Dimensions
max.: H. 7.2 × W. 23 × D. 22.8 cm (2 13/16 × 9 1/16 × 9 in.)
base: Diam. 14.2 cm (5 9/16 in.)
weight: 1067.9 g
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: inscribed on base before firing: 三 san (three)
Provenance
Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane, Brookline, MA (by 1942), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1942.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane
Accession Year
1942
Object Number
1942.185.51
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Label Text: 32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean , written 2014
This exquisitely shaped and glazed flowerpot and basin set was probably intended for a small, ornamental tree. “Numbered Jun wares,” as they are called, have a Chinese numeral stamped into their bases before firing to indicate size and to facilitate the matching of pot to basin. Numbers range from one to ten, with one the largest and ten the smallest. The Chinese numeral three on the base of each of these vessels indicates their relatively large size.
The blue glaze on traditional Jun ware of the Song dynasty (960–1279) was sometimes enlivened with splashes of purple, as can be seen on several pieces in a nearby case. Although numbered Jun flowerpots were once believed to be contemporaneous with traditional Jun wares, many scholars are now convinced that the extensive use of purple and the reliance on double-faced press-molds to form their distinctive shapes in fact indicate a fifteenth-century date of manufacture. In the eighteenth century, numbered Jun wares were collected and used in the imperial palace; inscriptions carved into the bases of selected examples identified them as palace property. The Harvard Art Museums boast approximately sixty numbered Jun wares, including fourteen with palace inscriptions.

Label Text: Re-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia , written 2008
Probably for a small tree of the type best known in the West by the Japanese name bonsai, this flowerpot and basin are exquisitely shaped and glazed. Examples of so-called numbered Jun ware have a Chinese numeral impressed on the base—stamped into the moist clay before firing—to indicate the size of the piece and to facilitate the matching of pot and basin. Numbers range from one to ten, with one designating the largest size and ten the smallest; these pieces each boast the numeral 3, indicating that they represent a relatively large size.
Traditional Jun ware of the Song dynasty (960–1279) boasts a robin’s-egg blue glaze sometimes enlivened with splashes of purple or lavender, as revealed by several pieces in a nearby case. Although the dating of numbered Jun pieces remains hotly debated, many scholars believe the extensive use of purple and the reliance on double-faced, or press, molds to shape the pieces point to a fourteenth-century date of manufacture. Collectors of works from later periods sometimes used basins of the type exhibited here as brush washers, planters for narcissus bulbs, and containers for rock-and-grass arrangements.

Publication History

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 58-59

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 55

Exhibition History

Later Chinese and Japanese Figure Painting in Decorative Arts, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/22/1992 - 06/07/1992

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 ('04), Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 01/31/2004 - 08/01/2004

A Compelling Legacy: Masterworks of East Asian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/24/2004 - 03/20/2005

Forging the New: East Asian Painting in the Twentieth Century, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/03/2005 - 10/16/2005

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

Re-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/31/2008 - 11/23/2008

Re-View: S228-230 (Asian rotation: 6), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/24/2011 - 11/12/2011

32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 05/31/2015; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 06/04/2015 - 11/29/2015

Adorning the Inner Court: Jun Ware for the Chinese Palace, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/20/2017 - 08/13/2017

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu