In addition to a significant collection of Chinese blue and white porcelain, the Gardiner Museum is also home to a collection of Japanese porcelain its influence on European porcelain.
Female figures are called bijin (beautiful women). Kakiemon figures are rare and their production atypical. Cast in moulds, they were first biscuit-fired in the low temperature Kakiemon enamelling kilns (muffle-kilns), next sent to the larger kilns to be glazed and high-fired, and then returned to the Kakiemon workshop for painting and a third firing. The figure’s kimono is decorated with stylized Chinese characters conveying good fortune.
The Liao dynasty was founded in what is now northern China by the Khitan, a nomadic, tribal people who were ancestors of the Mongols. The Khitan adopted many aspects of Tang dynasty Chinese culture, which they often mixed with their own traditions to create new, hybrid forms of culture. This flask is a good example of that intermixing process. The materials - lead-glazed earthenware - come directly from Tang Chinese pottery, but the form is based on a traditional Khitan leather canteen. It was probably made to be buried in a tomb as a status symbol, which was another practice adopted by the Khitan from Chinese culture.
This Hawk is an example of Blanc de Chine, a term coined by art historian Albert Jacquemart in the 19th century and has since been used by collectors to describe white wares. Figures such as this hawk were decorative features within European houses, while in China, it was made for sturdy household goods for everyday use or private devotion.
This piece is an example of Chinese famille-rose export porcelain. Famille rose refers to a particular type of Chinese porcelain decorated with overglaze enamels, one of which is a distinctive pink or red colour derived from colloidal gold. The recipe for making this type of red enamel may have been inspired by information brought to China by European missionaries in the early 18th century.