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Vase with lotus and dragon decoration in underglaze blue, Yongle reign (1403-1424), Ming dynasty

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Vase with lotus and dragon decoration in underglaze blue
Yongle reign (1403-1424), Ming dynasty
H. 42.9 cm;Diam. 9.7 cm;Diam. of base. 15.8 cm


This blue and white globe vase is large and thick, and the entire vessel is encircled by a stately and majestic three-clawed flying dragon winding through lotus flowers. The vessel has a grand and solemn air befitting that of a masterpiece among blue and white porcelain works from the Yongle reign in the collections of the National Palace Museum. The globe vase has a dense body coated in smooth glaze, and the mouth is somewhat flared outward. The vessel has a straight neck, round bulging belly, and slightly concave flat base with no ring foot. The entire vessel is adorned with a regardant three-clawed flying dragon winding through lotus flowers, with gaping jaws, lolling tongue, bared fangs, and round, piercing eyes. The dragon appears lithe and majestic, with a long stride and spread claws. Its body is covered in scales. The neck and background areas of the globe vase are decorated with branched lotus patterns in rich, thick underglaze blue, with flowing lines that demonstrate the superior porcelain production techniques of this period. During the Yongle and Xuande reigns, the firing of large blue and white wares, such as globe vessels and flasks, occurred sporadically. Blue and white wares used glazes containing oxidized cobalt to paint patterns onto white porcelain bodies, after which a layer of transparent glaze was then applied, and the works fired at about 1,200 degrees Celsius. Blue and white wares of the Yongle and Xuande reigns had an intense blue color that included dark blue iron rust speckles, presenting a unique style that became a key feature for emulation by Yongle and Xuande imitation porcelain of the early Qing Dynasty.

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