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An image of Pentafoil basin by Jingdezhen ware

Jingdezhen ware

(China  – )

Pentafoil basin
Place of origin
JingdezhenJiangxi ProvinceChina
Wanli 1573 - 1619Ming dynasty 1368 - 1644 → China
16th century
Media category
Materials used
porcelain with 'wucai' enamel decoration

6.8 x 27.5 cm

Gift from the J.H. Myrtle Collection 1999
Accession number
Upper Asian gallery
Further information

The basin is moulded in a flanged, five-lobed form, the unglazed base is recessed to form a shallow foot and there is a further shallow, circular glazed recess in the centre bearing a six-character mark.

The decoration, within and without, is in a vibrant purplish underglaze blue and red, green, brown and black overglazed colours in the wucai or five colours style. In the centre is a cluster of exotic flowers issuing from a large taihu rock. Each of the five shaped panels of the cavetto is also decorated with flowering and fruiting branches. Around the flattened rim is a continuous scroll. On the exterior is a peony scroll.

Wucai decoration, a combination of underglaze blue and overglaze polychrome enamels, was an important innovation of the Jiajing period (1522-1566), and was one of the last major additions to the lexicon of ornamental techniques that were developed during the Ming dynasty. The wucai porcelains produced during the Wanli period are outstanding. The wucai pentafoil basins in the size of present one are particularly rare.

Asian Art Dept, AGNSW, June 1999.

Bibliography (3)

Edmund Capon, Look, 'Asian ambitions', pg. 12-13, South Yarra, Oct 2000, 12 (colour illus.). Article about new building plans and the new Asian Gallery to be completed by 2003.

J. Hepburn Myrtle, Chinese porcelain of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties, Sydney, 1977, 23. 28

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Marvel of Porcelain', Sydney, 2003, 120 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (2)

Chinese porcelain of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 Feb 1977–26 Jun 1977

Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–05 Sep 2015