Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
porcelain with underglaze, and glaze

6 3/4 in x 4 1/8 in x 4 1/8 in (17.2 cm x 10.5 cm x 10.5 cm);4 1/16 in (10.4 cm);7 1/16 in (18 cm);7 1/2 in (19 cm)

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

Subject matter
A qinghua (清华) blue and white zhuang guan (壮 罐) jar of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

In Chinese language and culture, two magpies (shuang xi) depicted among plum trees (mei) and bamboo (zhu), form the rebus Zhu Mei Shuang Xi  (竹梅双喜), which refers to a story of a boy and a girl who played together as children and grew up to have a happy marriage. 

The discovery of kaolin clay at Jingdezhen, Jiangxi led to the establishment of official kilns during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), and the production of pure, white, hard paste porcelain and porcelain decorated with underglaze blue. During the 13th century of the Yuan dynasty, with the establishment of Pax Mongolia, blue and white porcelains were exported to Europe and the Middle East, as both tribute gifts as well as for the overseas export market. This continued through the Ming dynasty where porcelain was used domestically by all classes of society. A vast array of forms and designs were made to appeal to large and diverse overseas and domestic markets.
One of the most popular forms of decoration was underglaze cobalt blue. During the Yuan dynasty, the principal source of cobalt came from Persia, in the Ming, however, local sources were found. The domestic cobalt, high in manganese and iron, resulted in a deep blue color with dark specks that has become known as a “heap and piled” effect, a hallmark of Ming qinghua (blue and white) wares, that was imitated in the later Qing dynasty.

Physical Description
This porcelain jar with cylindrical body, has a recessed neck and foot with the same diameter. The body is decorated with underglaze blue paintings of magpies, plum branches, and bamboo, with floral scrolls around neck. The jar is covered with a clear glaze and is missing the dome capped lid. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
bamboo (material)
birds (motifs)
blue-and-white (ceramic glaze)
ceramic (material)
cobalt (mineral)
cobalt blue (pigment)
ewers (vessels)
plum (plant)
porcelain (visual works)

4 Related Resources

Cobalt & Blue
(Part of: Exchange and Influence on Global Trade Routes)
Cabinet L: Shelf 3
(Part of: Albertine Monroe-Brown Study-Storage Gallery)
Blue and White Ware
(Part of: Tremel Ceramic Production Collection)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ AMH, 2nd floor ➜ 205 (Albertine Monroe-Brown Study-Storage Gallery) ➜ Cabinet L ➜ Shelf 3