Dragon Amidst Blooming Peonies - A Gathering of Colors, Patterns and Cultures

Among antiques collectors with a soft spot for Southeast Asian ceramics, this covered bowl, enveloped in exquisite, colorful designs, is the artifact par excellence of the resplendence of the region’s ceramics. Chronicling one of the cultural confluences that swirled into existence in maritime Southeast Asia, this piece belongs to a class of ceramics called “Nyonya Wares”– distinguished by their archetypal yellow background and distinctive shapes– which are associated with Peranakan communities.

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Peranakan communities trace their lineage to Chinese immigrants who relocated to the Malay peninsula in search of better economic prospects in the 15-16th centuries, thereafter acquiring the appellation “Straits Chinese”. The Chinese voyagers settled in the city of Malacca, Malaysia, and married local women: their children, of hybrid Chinese and Malaysian descent, became known as Peranakan. Well-educated and fluent in English, the Peranakan were a worldly people who flaunted their prosperity and sophisticated tastes through the ownership of beautiful wares from China and Europe.

This covered bowl encodes the syncretic tastes that characterized Peranakan culture from the mid 19th century to the present day: present are the auspicious swans, dragons and peonies common to Chinese iconography, while the Western-inspired, bright color palette takes after Famille Rose, a type of porcelain produced during the Qing dynasty at the kilns of Jingdezhen, the legendary heart of Chinese porcelain production that has produced export ware for international markets for centuries.

Lot 555: A small polychrome porcelain covered bowl painted with phoenix and a dragon amidst blooming peonies on a yellow ground (1 pc.)
Style: Chinese
Circa: 19th Century

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