Porcelain bowl with thick walls


Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Xuande reign, 1426-1435
Porcelain with cobalt under colorless glaze
Jingdezhen ware
H x W: 12.6 x 26.6 cm (4 15/16 x 10 1/2 in)
China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


China, dragon, Jingdezhen ware, lotus, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), porcelain, WWII-era provenance, Xuande reign (1426 - 1435)
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Mathias Komor 1909 - 1984


This imperial bowl bears a Xuande reign mark in the interior. On the exterior it is decorated with two energetic, outstretched dragons gamboling among clouds. The base of the bowl is unglazed.

Deep bowls with thick walls like the Freer's bowl are often called "dice bowls." The name refers to their use in games played by tossing dice into them. It is unclear when the tradition to use bowls in dice games began, but there is pictorial evidence from the Liao Dynasty of this tradition. A Liao mural painting on the south wall of the rear chamber of Zhang Shiqing's tomb in Xuanhua, Hebei Province, illustrates a servant holding a thickly potted bowl filled with dice. While this painting provides evidence that bowls were used in dice games, it does not necessarily prove that Ming dynasty bowls of this shape had an identical purpose. Ming records of this practice have not yet come to light; therefore, scholars are continuing research on the use of the Ming bowls.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics (Toyo Toji Taikan): The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. no. 97, 104.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum