Water Pot

Object nr. 668 China, Jiaqing period (1796-1820) c. 1800 Height: 4.7 cm | Width: 4.8 cm

Private Collection, France

Condition Report availavle

€ 5,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information

Rock Crystal Water Pot

The small water pot, in the form of a folded lotus leaf, is carved in low relief and incised with a two animal faces and scrolls. Such elegant and symbolic objects, would have been intended for use in the Chinese scholar’s studio.

Colourless crystal quartz was particularly valued for its transparency, its name Shuijing – literally meaning water essence or crystalized water. As such, it was a symbol for purity, clarity & honour. To the Confucian scholar, crystal was a material likened to ice; not meaning coldness, but rather transparency with nothing to hide. Prized for its natural beauty, this stone also signified solitude, as well as sobriety in behaviour and thought. As a result rock crystal was a popular material for scholar’s studio objects, reflecting the literati’s pure thoughts.

Rock crystal (水晶), the purest member of the quartz family, is clear and colourless like glass. Due to its hard composition, it has to be shaped by abrasion. Using a treadle drill and basic manual tools, objects were hollowed and carved which took a tremendous amount of skill and patience. The natural shape and colour of the unworked crystal, was often brilliantly utilized by the carvers to further enhance the design.

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (acc.nr. 0.61& A1946), The Metropolitan Museum, New York (acc.nr.02.18.831) and the Aberdeen Archive & Gallery (acc nr ABDMSO24914)., all have a smaller rock crystal pine tree vase. The Palace Museum, Beijing has a small vase with a pine tree and a monkey.

Floris van der Ven