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An ovoid-shaped Chinese Ming period porcelain jar painted in rich blue around the sides with two five-clawed dragons among clouds and with rocks and waves below.  Round the shoulder a stylised shou (long life character) seems to grow out of the lotus

Extraordinary Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Royal Collection

China [Asia]

Cup and cover reign of Qianlong, 1736-95

RCIN 11636

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This cup is inscribed with a poem extolling the virtues of the Qianlong Emperor’s favourite herbal drink, Sanqing cha or ‘Tea of Three Purities’. It is a herbal infusion made from melted snow, plum blossom, Buddha’s hand citron and pine nuts. During the first month of the Chinese year the Qianlong Emperor (1736–95) would invite his ministers to sit with him in the Chonghua Hall and compose poetry whilst drinking this infusion. The 22-line poem, written in 1746, describes how 'After coming to the boil, bubbles like the eyes of fish or crabs can be distinguished on the surface of the water / Steam rises from the tripod appearing to alternate between Utpadaniradha birth and death'. A number of mythical and real figures known for their love of tea are referenced throughout.