Kangxi reign: A Famille Rose ‘Tibetan Children in Winter Celebration’ Dish

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This dish is shallow rounded sides with a flared everted rim, standing with the unglazed foot. Around the interior is enameled in famille rose style of three Tibetan children gather around hot charcoals where they boil water together for drink ceremony and get ready to drink it as one of them still plays by the side. All are depicted under tree and flora designs in the garden together with cat and bats. The rim is adorned with four cartouches framing stalk of flower reserved against with a diamond brocade pattern. The glazed base is written with a Lozenge with ribbons mark.


In the Qing dynasty, many new enamels of the palette were imported from Europe countries such as foreign red (yang hong), foreign yellow (yang huang), foreign green (yang lu) and foreign white (yang bai). These entire imported elements of enamels and pigments were mixed together fired at a low temperature resulting in a wide range of shade of colors and appearing the softer and gentler ‘soft colors’ compared to that of famille verte wares. The present dis is painted in famille rose style or yangcai (洋彩, “foreign colors”) exhibiting a new type of porcelain decoration that was first introduced from Europe around 1685. Famille rose technique had evolved its inception in the Kangxi reign since it is characterized with rose tones, especially on the figures and other objects. The design style was continued more delicately in the Yongzheng and Qianlong periods.

The present vase displays three Tibetan children images placed in front of a hall gathering around hot charcoals. They boil water together and get ready to drink, and one of them still plays by the side. The children wearing the hats and the thick clothing indicate that this atmosphere is most likely a winter day. Steam rising from the water that is boiled above the hot coals, symbolizing the “Tea All Together” suggests that it represents the warmth of a family reunion in winter celebration, and it refers an auspicious theme. While a cat is depicted in front of two children as if seeing a boy playing. The base of the present dish inscribed with a Lozenge with ribbons mark suggests that the current dish was produced in the Kangxi reign.

The imperial and private kilns bloomed and the potters at Jingdezhen executed decorative enamels in various methods and styles. The porcelain industry reached its new zenith during the Qing dynasty and produced some of the most marvelous porcelains ever crafted. An enormous variety of porcelains was produced, which included those for imperial use, for impersonal consumption, and for export abroad. Close contact between the court and occupant European Jesuits in China had a great influence on aspects of Qing art. Some porcelains of the period displayed features that reflected Chinese-Western interactions, like the present famille rose dish.

After invading Tibet in 1717, Tibet was justified on the grounds that it was part of China. Tibetan cultural influences extend to the art and religion of China, where Tibetan Buddhism was one of the predominant religions. Although the Qing interest in Tibet was religious, but the life of arts and literatures evoked the great pleasure of the Kangxi Emperor. The porcelain kilns at Jingdezhen employed the division of labor on a large scale. The artists and painters of the Qing dynasty of Kangxi reign were inheritors of a tradition that was already more than thousands of years old. The subject ‘Tibetan Children in Winter Celebration’ on the current dish appeared in a Hanging Scroll, dated to Yuan dynasty. For example, the similar design and composition, is included in National Palace Museum, Taiwan, but dated Yuan dynasty, entitled ‘Children Cooking Pao-tzu’ in size 158.9×103.3 cm (see fig. 1). Therefore, the design on the present dish is not only rarely published, but also confirm that the design on the present dish was created in the Kangxi reign of Qing dynasty. Is the present dish created resembling the Yuan Hanging Scroll, or is a Hanging Scroll from National Palace Museum painted in the Kangxi reign? The connoisseurs should engage in researching more accurate.


Kangxi Reign