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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

Jingdezhen [Jiangxi Province, China]

Jar mark and reign of Jiajing

RCIN 1385

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This time-worn Chinese jar is the earliest example of Ming blue-and-white porcelain in the Collection. It is decorated with a five-clawed imperial dragon and includes the reign-mark of 'the Jiajing emperor of the Great Ming', which dates it from between 1522 and 1566. 

Porcelains painted with designs in underglaze blue like this were developed in the manufactories at Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, in the mid-fourteenth century. They soon reached western Asia via trade routes. In the sixteenth century, the Portuguese began trading directly with China by sea and commerce of this kind was greatly increased by the Dutch and English East India Companies the following century. However, this jar is more likely to have been acquired through a Mediterranean intermediary. It is the oldest of the very few pieces which may have been in continuous royal possession since before the English Civil War.