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Keeping cool

It has been extremely hot here in the UK as we have gone through another heatwave - a scary phenomenon that seems to be the new normal as the global climate is being messed up. Britain is not built for heat and we have all been struggling in our baking hot brick houses. So I thought it is only appropriate to bring in these wise Chinese chaps fanning themselves - they know how to keep themselves cool!

This beautiful Ming ewer is old - really old. It was made in the early 17th Century, about 400 years ago. This was the Chongzhen era, which was the late Ming era and is often called the Transitional Period.

The Chongzhen Emperor was the 17th and last Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigning from 1627 to 1644. The name "Chongzhen" means "honourable and auspicious"; however this period did not turn out to be honourable and auspicious at all; the transition from the Ming to the Qing era was painful and fought through a succession of bitter civil wars. Although the official transition started in 1644, civil war had already started in 1618 so the Chongzhen Emperor presided over what you would rightly call a royal mess. The porcelain industry greatly suffered as patronage of the court ceased and porcelain makers had to find their own customers. As a result, the quality of the porcelain often suffered. But equally the artistic freedom flourished as the strict rules of the court had fallen away - this period is sometimes called the "Liberated Brush".

You can see both the shaky quality of the porcelain and the liberated style of painting on this beautiful ewer. The porcelain is not even in all places and a little messy on the underside and the bridge between the spout and the body, and the colour of the glaze is quite blue. But the paintwork is extraordinary: on each side is a reclining figure fanning himself. There are rocks and trees around; a fence; a tree branch hanging over to give us the impression that we are secretly peeking at the figure. Both figures look very human with peaceful faces. There is a beautiful sense of freedom and movement in the brushwork of the rocks and trees, as if you feel the breeze of the fans. The neck, foot, handle and spout of the ewer are decorated with Turkish flowers; it is likely that these ewers were made for the Turkish market and they would have been perfect vessels for olive oil.

You can find this ewer here in my shop, and you can see all my Oriental items here. If you always want to see the latest additions, follow me on Instagram... I post pictures and a story every single day!

Happy weekend, and stay cool! 🌞🔥🌞


This week's new treasures:​



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