We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Dragon ewer

mid 15th century


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of Dragon ewer by
Alternate image of Dragon ewer by
Alternate image of Dragon ewer by
Alternate image of Dragon ewer by
Alternate image of Dragon ewer by
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Hoi An Vietnam
    mid 15th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    stoneware; moulded, with underglaze blue and white decoration
    22.3 x 17.0 x 7.8 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 2000
    Naala Nura, ground level, Asian Lantern galleries
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Associated with the aquatic aspects of creation, dragons are central themes in Vietnamese cosmology and it was believed that fish of great age transformed themselves into dragons capable of flight. The Ly dynasty named its capital Thang Long or ‘rising dragon’. The dragon has a ubiquitous presence on Vietnamese ceramics, where it appears painted in underglaze blue, applied as unglazed relief decoration and, less commonly, in moulded shapes as on this fantastic pouring vessel.

    The ewer has been made from a two-piece mould with the parts luted together along a vertical seam with the dragon details realised with spirited brushwork. It was part of the important Hoi An hoard of over 150,000 ceramics, the cargo of a sunken ship found near the historic port of Hoi An near Da Nang in Vietnam and brought to public attention through controlled excavations carried out from 1997 to 1999. Interestingly a similar dragon vessel was documented (in a 1979 Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong catalogue) as having been excavated with a fine gold chain around its neck from a grave on the southern coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in 1972.

    The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.302.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 12 publications

  • Provenance

    Chu Lao Cham Ship, pre 1997, Hoi An/Vietnam, recovered from the sunken cargo ship between 1997-1999 under the management of the Vietnamese government.

    Butterfields (San Francisco) Auctioneers Corp., Oct 2000, San Francisco/California/United States of America, purchased from auction by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Oct 2000.