Antqiue Stoneware Green Glaze 5 Piece Altar Set
Item No. 16901
19th Century, Buddhist, China
15.25" x 7" x 0"
( 38.735 x 17.78 x 0 cm)
(H x W x D)
This set of five pieces of pottery is sometimes referred to as a “garniture set”, that is a group of three, four, five or seven large pieces consisting of lidded jars or vases which are displayed laterally in a specific order. . The set is apple green glazed pottery from Shiwan, an area near Guangzhou that has a rich source of clay that is very plastic and well suited to producing sculptural works. Many master potters have emerged from Shiwan, which is representative of China's southern folk kilns and has produced four major types of wares: figurines, animals, miniatures and functional objects such as vases, incensers, flower pots, brush washers, kitchen ware and teapots. Subject matter also includes Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist, historical and everyday figures, as well as utilitarian items.
The five pieces comprise an altar set which was ritually used to perform ancestral offerings within a Chinese dwelling on a daily, semimonthly, and seasonal basis. The set would have been placed on a family altar in a central room which was the focal point of a Chinese dwelling. An altar set customary is comprised of two vases and two candlesticks that were symmetrically placed around an incenser which was used to hold joss sticks on the altar table. These critical elements were surrounded by other ritual items, such as packages of incense and firecrackers, divination sticks or blocks, wine cups, statues of deities, an ancestor portrait, souvenirs from places visited and perhaps some waxed fruit.
The incenser in this set is molded in the form of a longevity symbol. The lid contains an image of a fu lion and the legs of the incenser are in the form of fu lion paws. The fu lion is a symbol of superhuman strength, valor and energy and the protector and mount of holy beings. He sits atop figures of bats, symbols of “fu” which means happiness and good fortune and signifies the bestowal and receipt of divine factors. The vases are decorated with vegetal sprays in the center and leaves on the top and bottom portions. The candlesticks also contain leaf and vegetal spray designs.