Blue & White Tea Leaf Jar

c. 1900
$480 USD
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H: 7.0" Dia: 4.5"
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Lidded jars like these were used in tea shops throughout China, where tea drinking was a symbol of taste and upper-class refinement. This tea leaf jar dates to the early 20th century and exemplifies the timeless allure of blue-and-white porcelain. Freely brushed in a cobalt-blue glaze, the jar is painted with an array of botanical motifs, including a lotus flower with leaves and a full peony blossom, symbols of spring and summer. Between these large flowers are various abstract florals and butterflies, filling the limited white space to create an all-over pattern. The tea leaf jar is complete with a circular lid adorned with two hibiscus flowers.

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Blue & White Porcelain

Soon after its development in the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368 AD), blue-and-white underglaze porcelain became a favorite of the imperial court. Its broad appeal rapidly extended beyond China’s borders, becoming a lucrative export commodity highly sought after in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond.

Using cobalt imported from Western Asia, ceramic artists ground the mineral into a vibrant blue pigment that was then painted directly on a porcelain base, coated with clear glaze, and fired. This underglaze technique brought with it a shift in focus from the overall shape of a vessel to the skill and artistry traceable in its painted decoration.

Transcending time and taste, blue-and-white porcelain continues to be appreciated around the world for the intricate brushwork and brilliant blue color.

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