DATE: ca. 1690 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels

This famille verte (green family) teapot is so called because of the variety of clear green enamels used to decorate it. This name is used to describe Chinese export porcelain painted in this style, of which vast amounts were created for the Western market during the 17th and 18th centuries. ‘Top’ or ‘over’ handles, such as the one on this teapot, assumed their basic form from Chinese wine pots and were common during this period. By 1710, however, they were becoming less prevalent due to their impracticality in the preparation of tea. The decoration on this teapot depicts the eight mythological horses of Mu Wang, Emperor of the Zhou dynasty (1023-983 BC). The horses of Emperor Mu provided a popular subject for porcelain decoration in China during the 17th and early 18th centuries. According to mythology each horse had a supernatural gift, from galloping without touching the ground to riding on a cloud. The tale was used as a metaphor for the safe and prosperous voyage of any Chinese ruler.