Before the secret to producing hard paste porcelain was known in Europe, manufactories sought to imitate the Chinese material with earthenware vessels glazed in a tin oxide which gave a white, shiny and opaque appearance. In the intial stages of their production these wares imitated Chinese blue and white ware, a design theme that dominated the Chinese export trade until the end of the 17th century. This teapot features stylised lotus and plum blossoms, both auspicious symbols in Chinese culture. Its similarity to the ‘onion’ or ‘bulb’ pattern casts doubt as to the centre of its decoration, as although originally a Chinese pattern, it was copied extensively in Saxony before becoming more widespread. The teapot’s small size is indicative of the value of tea at this time and its status as a luxury enjoyed in small quantities by the upper classes.