DATE: 1654 - 1722 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels

The body of this teapot is moulded to resemble a bundle of bamboo stalks, a plant that symbolises longevity, integrity and vitality in Chinese culture. This form became fashionable when the first purpose-made Chinese teapots were produced from red zisha clay from Yixing, in the 16th century. At a time when large quantities of Chinese ceramics were being exported to Europe, teapots in exotic or novel shapes would have appealed greatly to the taste of wealthy Europeans. In fact, the Scottish architect Sir William Chambers illustrated a bamboo-form teapot in his publication Designs of Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines and Utensils (1757) (Sargent, 2012, p.177). To create this form, the teapot would have been moulded in two separate parts, which would have been attached and the ‘seam’ disguised with painted enamels and coloured glazes. The overglaze enamels in green hues seen on this example are referred to as ‘famille verte’ (green family), a term coined in 1862 by the French art historian Albert Jacquemart (1808-1875).