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Between and Mortarboard

UMMA Object Specific Fields

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Blue-and-white covered box with floral and geometric designs

Accession Number

Blue-and-white covered box with floral and geometric designs

Kiln Unknown, Vietnam

Object Creation Date
16th century

Medium & Support
stoneware with blue underglaze painting

1 15/16 in. x 3 in. x 3 in. ( 4.9 cm x 7.6 cm x 7.6 cm )

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund

Label copy
March 28, 2009
These covered boxes with blue underglaze painting are examples of the prime wares exported from Vietnam to the Southeast Asian island countries. Although blue-and-white stonewares were first produced exclusively in China, increasing demand from the international market made the Vietnamese kilns highly competitive in the production of less expensive types. Not unlike the international car industry in the modern era, it was common for these kilns to copy their rivals’ popular models and sell them at cheaper prices. Blue-and-white shards of Chinese Ming wares have been found at kiln sites in Vietnam and in Thailand, another major competitor. The covered box with chrysanthemum design shown here is almost an exact copy of a Ming porcelain.
(Label for UMMA South and Southest Asia Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject matter
Covered boxes were used as burial objects to accompany the dead. This practice for the care of deceased people in afterlife preceded the succession of foreign religious influence from Buddhism, Hinduism to Islam. The stoneware trade ceramics were also objects of status and wealth, for the local kilns only produced less durable and inexpensive earthernwares. The round shape with a handle, and some of the design motifs were adopted from stone and metal reliquaries and architectural elements came with Indian Hinduism and Buddhism.

Physical Description
A melon-shaped stoneware box with a lid, the shape slightly faceted on the sides and the lid concave to a disk-shape center. The box is decorated with freehand floral and geometric designs in blue cobalt pigment, and then a whitish glaze was applied to the whole.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)
Decorative Arts

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boxes (containers)
containers (receptacles)
floral patterns
geometric patterns
stoneware (pottery)

6 Related Resources

(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Death and Dying
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
Grief and Mourning Rituals
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Heavens, Hells, and Afterlives
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Cobalt & Blue
(Part of: Exchange and Influence on Global Trade Routes)

& Author Notes

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