Object nr. 496 China, Kangxi period (1662-1722) Height: 7.3 cm | Width: 12 cm

Private Collection, United Kingdom

Condition Report available

€ 19,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information


An enamel on biscuit porcelain water pot in the shape of a frog. It is glazed in the sancai tri-colour palette of green, with touches of yellow and aubergine, with black embellishments. The crouching frog, with its broad head raised, has large bulging yellow eyes with large dark brown pupils. In its mouth it holds a lotus stem, the  purplish pod peeking out of its mouth and a branch ending in a green leaf curls over its back. The hollow body is green with black patches and has a large hole in its back for water - which would probably have been taken out with a small ladle. The chest is white with just a transparent glaze, the underside is unglazed biscuit.There is some confusion between frogs and toads in Chinese art, as the toad is also regularly represented. Toads have a distinctive bumpy skin and sometimes just three legs, when depicting the money toad.

Frogs (qingwa) are associated with rain and water, making them a very fitting subject for a scholar’s water pot. They also represent fertility, as they spawn so many offspring; this is perhaps why in China mothers also refer to their children as frogs wa. This frog holds a lotus pod (lianzi) in its mouth, another fertility symbol. Altogether, this water pot can be interpreted as the wish for many children.

The main tools for study and writing, are known as the ‘Four treasures of the scholars Studio’; they were the writing brush, ink stick, inkstone and paper. These apparently simple items, were in fact what distinguished an educated scholar from a common tradesman. They stood for a notable career in government, thus bringing respect, social status and income for the whole family. These ‘treasures’ actually encompassed all the related paraphernalia for writing and painting, such as water pots, brush rests, paper weights etc. During the Kangxi period, the form and decoration of these scholar’s desk objects, reached a high level of refinement and their selection became a matter of great connoisseurship.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, has an identical example (C.26-1962). The Burrell Collection, Glasgow, has a smaller green frog water pot (acc.nr 38.853). The Jie Rui Tang collection, holds a water pot of a green toad on a rock (nr.0416) and a three-legged money toad (nr.0222).

Floris van der Ven