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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world

Jingdezhen [Jiangxi Province, China]

Bottle mid-18th century

RCIN 2392

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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The motif of a dragon emerging from a stormy sky has its roots in ancient Chinese philosophy, where dragons are associated with water and believed to control rain. The dragon on this vase is reaching for a jewel, which has variously been interpreted as a representation of thunder, the moon or a tide-controlling gem. From the Song dynasty (960–1279) onwards, dragons were typically depicted with four or five claws to denote high rank.

It was presented to Queen Victoria in 1896 by Li Hongzhang (1823-1901), the Special Chinese Ambassador, on behalf of Guangxu, Emperor of China.