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

During the late 17th century, when this teapot was made, large quantities of Chinese porcelain tea wares were exported to Europe where tea was a new and fashionable beverage. The body of this teapot is moulded to resemble a cluster of bamboo stalks, a plant that symbolises longevity, integrity and vitality in Chinese culture. Exotic decoration greatly appealed to the Western taste for novelty and rarity and was considered particularly appropriate for tea wares on account of tea’s Chinese origins. Earlier examples of bamboo moulded teapots were often made from Yixing red stoneware. Chinese porcelain decorated in green overglaze enamels is known as ‘famille verte’ a term coined by the French art historian Albert Jacquemart (1808-1875) and the translucent, aubergine glaze forming the ground colour on this teapot is very rare. The bamboo design was later imitated by European potters such as Josiah Wedgwood, who created a successful range known as caneware (see CCN 129).