Shiwan Ware Chop Stick Holder
Item No. 19325
19th Century, N/A, China
7.5" x 8.25" x 3.75"
( 19.05 x 20.955 x 9.525 cm)
(H x W x D)
Within the ceramic tradition of China, the pieces produced in Shiwan, known as Shiwan ware, are now well recognized for their fine modeling, vivid expression, and colorful glazes. Although the intimate appeal of Shiwan ceramics historically has been unappreciated because it was overshadowed by the appeal of the fine porcelains manufactured at the imperial kilns in China, Shiwan ware in the past several decades has come into its own as a fine, respected and now highly collected art form.
The local, coarse-sand and inexpensive pottery clay was used by Shiwan potters to produce basic daily ware utensils, the most well known of which are the cooking vessels and tea pots which add earthy flavor to the food cooked within them. Known as the” Pottery Capital” for centuries, Shiwan traditionally produced pottery for every conceivable human need. In modern times. This is still its goal, but potters have added development of porcelain products to their repertoire. Thus, Shiwan is now known as a “comprehensive pottery and porcelain production base.”
Daily wares were the primary items produced in Shiwan which was said to produce pottery for every conceivable need – pots, cups, plates, vessels, and other utilitarian pieces. The pieces are well known for their brilliant flambé—or flame-like quality – glazes such as displayed in the apple green glaze of this pot. This chopstick holder is a prototypical piece of Shiwan ware.
According to Terese Tse Bartholomew (1 page 66) chopsticks are significant accessories in China. They are often included in a bride’s dowry because the word for chopstick (kuaizi) is a pun which means “speedy arrival on sons (kuaizi). There are traditionally four characters on a chopstick container either across the top or along the sides which read “baize qiansun,” which means a wish for a hundred sons and a thousand grandsons. The chopstick holder is centered by an image of a bat hovering above and sometimes holding in its mouth, a coin, which implies a wish for blessings in front of your eyes.
A piece very similar to this is included in the catalogue of an exhibition of Shiwan Ceramics the Chinese Cultural Foundation of Chicago (2) on page 51.
(1)Terese Tse Bartholomew, “Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art,” Hong Kong, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006.
(2)Scollard, Fredrikke. and Bartholomew, Terese Tse, Shiwan Ceramics: Beauty Color and Passion, Chinese Cultural Foundation of San Francisco, San Francisco, 1994.
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