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An image of Large dish with design of Chinese characters by Swatow ware

Swatow ware

(China  – )

Large dish with design of Chinese characters
Other titles:
Swatow ware polychrome dish with design of Chinese characters 'tian xia yi' ('everything under the heavens') in central medallion surrounded by the characters for the 24 points of the Chinese compass in a ring
Place of origin
circa 1600
Media category
Materials used
porcelain with enamel decoration, the characters in the central medallion read 'everything under heaven' ('tian xia yi'), surrounded in a circle by the characters for the 24 points of the Chinese compass

8.9 x 37.8 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Anthony Odillo Maher 1998
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Swatow refers to a large family of coarse provincial porcelains, often with vigorously painted decoration. They were produced in imitation of Kraak porcelains in a number of kilns not far from the port of Shantou (Swatow in Dutch records) in Guangdong province in southern China. Swatow wares are roughly made, often with grit adhering to their foot rims, while their decorations have the freedom and verve characteristic of late Ming ceramics. They have been found along international trade routes of the late 1500s and 1600s. Most typical of Swatow wares are the large dishes, decorated in blue-and-white, polychrome enamels and, less commonly, monochrome colours over a slip decoration.

'Swatow wares', The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.140.

Bibliography (2)

Barbara Harrisson, Later ceramics in Southeast Asia: Sixteenth to Twentieth Centuries, 1995. In this publication a work of similar style is illustrated, no. 5a,b, and no. 6.

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Export Ceramics', Sydney, 2003, 140 (colour illus.).