Teapot

ARTIST / MAKER: Unknown
DATE: 1736-1795 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain with overglaze enamels
COLLECTION NUMBER: 1176

This teapot was made during a prosperous and innovative time for Chinese ceramic production, driven in part by the prolific export of ceramics to the West. The teapot’s decoration is known as ‘Mandarin palette’, a colour scheme and design theme which almost exclusively features brilliantly-coloured Han Chinese figures in exterior settings, such as gardens or terraces. This style of decoration emerged at the turn of the 19th century and was considered by Europeans to be an insight into domestic life in China. However, the scenes most likely depict the prosperous merchants who resided in Canton and Macao. A central seated man smokes from an opium pipe, surrounded by two women adorned with gold jewellery and headpieces. One of the two children playing with a dog holds a Chinese eternity knot, one of the Eight Auspicious Buddhist symbols representing unity and the interconnectedness of all things.