Monthly Archives: January 2015

Clay Forms

 Jay Kvapil-new-work-large-bottle-2013

Volcanic glaze bottle – Jay Kvapil


I never tire of admiring a design that exudes originality and spirit. Sometimes form alone works a treat, with the right balance and originality. Any added decoration would detract from its pure brilliance.  Decorative lines, texture and colour can all contribute to the added illusion of depth and combine to manifest rhythm in the design. Overlapping lines and colours support the perception of depth. Sharp edges in the decoration can flatten the depth, as can a lack of tonal diversity. Decorative additions can clash with the shape of a piece, if the lines aren’t harmonic with the form.
The curvilinear shape always presents shifting perspectives and intriguing possibilities on the three dimensional canvas of clay pottery. Asymmetrical patterns and design adds to the allure of a decoration as it offers multiple angles where the piece reflects a shifting appearance. Additional texture can be created with decorative lines, directly carved into a piece or appear with the glaze and natural surface of the clay. The more textured a surface, the larger the object appears.
The mood of a piece can be manipulated with the styles of the lines in both the form and decoration. Vertical lines are yin, expansive, gravity defying, feminine, restless and reflect growth and flexibility. Conversely yang horizontal lines are grounded, masculine, restful, steady, rigid, passive, calm and serene. An assertive mood can be created with bold, straight, solid, sharp, thick, and even lines. A soft, or delicate mood would employ curved, thin, or continuous flowing lines. An edgy feel logically comes from diagonal, disjointed, angular shape and lines. The creative combination of these ‘moods’ can create an excellent dynamic. This was particularly evident in the vivid Art Deco designs.
The most cleverly conceived design can be dismissed in a glance if these creative elements don’t mesh and sometimes if the form isn’t right to begin with, decoration will struggle to save it. The artist uses these design elements to put form to his creative spirit, and ironically, with abandonment of intellectual analysis, the viewer can get closer to appreciating the spirit of the work.
The focus of this post is on forms that are original, or have decoration that effectively enhances the form.



Female figure dish – Edouard Cazaux



Alessandro Mendini,-Superego-Editions,-Yellow-and-black

Modernist ceramic vessel by Alessandro Mendini,- Superego Edition




American master potter and ceramic artist-Val Cushing-(1931)

Val Cushing

USA 1931




Anne Currier abstract ceramic sculpture

  Anne Currier





 A graceful Korean celadon glaze porcelain ewer, designed to resemble a bamboo shoot.

Museum of FIne Arts in Boston, 12th century



Brother Thomas,-Tall vase, textured copper reds and greens, porcelain

Tall textured copper reds and green vase – Brother Thomas




Globular Art Deco vase – Camille Faure



Carlos Versluys ceramic pitcher

Carlos Versluys ceramic handpainted pitcher




Catherine of Siena-Italy

Ceramic burner with decentralized neck – Catherine of Siena, Italy




raku vase Caught Up In Clay - etsy

Japanese influenced raku vessel – Meredith McGriff, Indiana

Caught Up In Clay – etsy



Cecilia Boivie lamb figurines

 Cecilia Boivie – sheep figurines





Davis Vachon-raku bird

Davis Vachon




Clyde_Burt_Ceramics bottle

 Ceramic bottle mid-century – Clyde Burt



crater-glaze Michael-Hamlin-Smith

 Yellow crater glaze vessel Michael Hamlin Smith




Davide-Salvadore 2000

Abstract vessel, twin necks – Davide Salvadore





'Tyto 1' - Daina & Francis - sculptural owl -- Stylized barn owl sculpture in graphite colored mica flecked stone. Mounted on a bronzed patinaed steel base

‘Tyto 1’ – Daina & Francis- Elemental Artifacts

Stylized barn owl sculpture in graphite colored mica flecked stone. Mounted on a bronzed patinaed steel base




Emile Jacques Ruhlmann French Art Deco

Art Deco bowl – Emile Jacques Ruhlmann




Enno Jäkel contemporary vessel

Enno Jäkel contemporary vessel




Giuliano Malimpensa 'Roma' palladium vessel

‘Roma’ – Giuliano Malimpensa palladium sculptural vessel




Jim & Shirl – ‘Parmentier’




Japanese pottery - Kato-Yasukage,-Joan B. Mirviss Gallery

Kato Yasukage, Joan B. Mirviss





Kazuo Yagi---Futakuchi Tsubo-1950

Kazuo Yagi — Futakuchi Tsubo





Natasha-Dikareva Fishwife's Birthday Teapot;

‘Fishwife’s Birthday Teapot’  sculpture by Natasha Dikareva.





Large Guido Gamboni Stoneware contemporary Vessel,

Incised stoneware Vessel – Guido Gamboni



Larry Halvorsen freeform abstract ceramic sculpture in black and white

Larry Halvorsen



Leza Mcvey clay sculpture 40's

Handbuilt vessel – Leza Mcvey

USA 4o’s



Listening to Waves vase Heisei period-(1989–present),-2004-Sakiyama Takayuki

‘Listening to Waves’ vase  – Sakiyama Takayuki

Heisei period-(1989–present), 2004




Lucie Rie vase

Lucie Vase




Marianne de Trey contemporary ceramic sculptural vessel

Marianne de Trey




Meissen Porcelain-Factory ceramic lidded vessel

Meissen Porcelain Factory ceramic lidded vessel




Michelle Mendlowitz contemporary bottle

Michelle Mendlowitz contemporary ceramic bottle






‘Kassandra’ – Peter Mandl

Höllviken, Sweden




Kerry Hastings-contemporary bowl

 Kerry Hastings




Koloman Moser-lotz-vase

Koloman Moser vase for Loetz



On a Dark Wing of a Wave Jacques Vesery

‘On a Dark Wing of a Wave’   Jacques Vesery




Paul Soldner Wood Fired Ceramic-Vessel

Wood Fired Ceramic Vessel – Paul Soldner




Robert Hessler---Crystalline glazed bottle

Robert Hessler—Crystalline glazed bottle





Ron Mello gold leaf vase

‘Puzzle Pot 1’ – Ron Mello

This particular piece was wheel thrown, burnished and initially sagger fired. Then the  piece was cracked and broken into several pieces. Each was then fired or treated with a different technique and reassembled.



Shimaoka-Tatsuzo rectangular vessel

Shimaoka Tatsuzo




Stig Lindberg; Glazed Stoneware Vases for Gustavsberg,-c1955

 Two Turquoise Glazed Stoneware Vases by Stig Lindberg for Gustavsberg, Sweden




Tessa Wolfe Murray ceramicist

Tessa Wolfe Murray





Two-Vases by Maia C - Flickr

Art Nouveau vases in the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio

Maria C – flickr





‘Second Amendment Urn’ – Yoko Sekino Bové

 Porcelain with sgraffito, brushed glaze, fired to cone 5 in oxidation, with luster, 2011

10 in. (25 cm) in height




Japanese Edo-period, crackle glaze bottle

Japanese Endo Period crackle glaze bottle




Peter-Layton-Large-stoneform - Mattson's-Fine-Art

Peter Layton glass vessel

Mattson’s Fine Art




NEXT POST  —  ‘Women using traditional pottery’


Creative Ceramic Tile

A collection of various innovative ceramic tile artists, past and present.


Motawi Tileworks


The Motawi Tileworks was began in 1992, when Nawal Motawi set up a table at a farmers market and received a commission to create her first local fireplace installation. Today, their handcrafted tiles can be found in homes nationwide. The tiles are currently produced in a studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan and represent an eclectic mix of historical decorative art styles including block prints by Yoshiko Yamamoto, the graphic art of Frank Lloyd Wright, the De Stijl Movement, Art Nouveau, Mary Chase Stratton, Adelaide Robineau, Louis Sullivan, C.F. Voysey, William DeMorgan and Dard Hunter.

Motawi Tiles now consists of the sibling duo of Karim and Nawal Motawi and their staff of talented artisans. Nawal studied sculpture and ceramics at the University of Michigan and learned tile-making at Pewabic Pottery.  Karim, also educated at the U of M, runs the production studio and teaches tile-making classes.

Motawi’s polychrome tile decorators are affectionately referred to as “the Bee Gees,” short for “bulb glazers,” because they use bulb syringes to pool glaze onto the tiles. In this centuries-old technique—called cuenca, or simply raised-line—color areas are separated by the tiny ridges of clay that are formed in the pressing process.

Site Link


Confetti - Motawi Tileworks

 ‘Confetti’ – Motawi Tileworks




Motawi Tileworks Frank Lloyd Wright March Balloons Tile

 Frank Lloyd Wright style ‘March Balloons’ Tile -Motawi Tileworks



Motawi - Koi Tile Mural

 Koi tile mural – Motawi Tileworks



Hoffman House Rug- Frank Lloyd Wright--Motawi Tileworks

Motawi Tileworks –  Tile inspired from the Hoffman House Rug- Frank Lloyd Wright



Limp On A Limp Motawi ceramic tile

 ‘Limp on a Limb’ – Motawi Tileworks




Songbirds grey_blue large tile

 Grey blue ‘Songbirds’ – Motawi Tileworks



Autumn Edibles Motawi Tileworks USA

 ‘Autumn Edibles’ – Motawi Tileworks



Frozen Spheres tile - Motawi

‘Frozen Spheres’ – Motawi Tileworks



Motawi Bleeding Heart Tile

 Motawi ‘Bleeding Heart’ Tile

Janice L. Walrafen


Janice  grew up in the Senoran desert of Arizona with her artist/potter mother and two sisters. She currently resides along the Winooski River in Plainfield Vermont among the wise white pine, sweet cedar, fiddleheads, cattails, wild and domestic creatures that share her home and garden; red squirrel, crow, turkey, deer, jay, merganser, fox, owl, mink, weasel, otter, chickadee, yellow finch, grouse, woodpecker, goose, duck, canine, and human friends. All an influence on her art.

Her decorative relief tiles are created by pressing clay into an original plaster mold. Each tile is then carefully dried, fired and hand painted with studio-made glazes, fired a second time to a stoneware temperature of 2200 degrees, creating colorful and unique tiles.

Site link 




Beautiful Birches Janice L. Walrafen

 ‘Beautiful Birches’  Janice L. Walrafen




Ceramic tile - Mermaid - Janice L. Walrafen

 ‘Mermaid’ – Janice L. Walrafen




Wall tile - Pheasants-Janice L. Walrafen

 ‘Pheasants’ – Janice L.Walrafen




Abstract ceramic tile - Ravens Wood- Janice L. Walrafen

 ‘Ravens Wood’ – Janice L. Walrafen


Chris Gryder


“I create sculptural ceramic objects that engage with a deep sense of time and history; a geological time and the time of civilizations. There is a visceral joy, a complete indulgence in tactile geometric form that evokes a world where wonder still reigns. A place at the edge of the wild.”

Site Link


Wall panel Candy Mountain by Chris Gryder

 ‘Candy Mountain’ by Chris Gryder




Chris Gryder, Burst, Ceramic,-27in-x-27in-x-2in

‘Burst’ –  Chris Gryder, Ceramic panels





Sectio Auria - Bas Relief Sculpture - Chris Gryder Roanoke, Virginia, United-States

 ‘Sectio Auria’ – Bas Relief Sculpture – Chris Gryder

Roanoke, Virginia, United-States




Chris Gryder-Infinity Squared wall panel

‘Infinity Squared’ – Chris Gryder



Medicine Bluff Studio


Medicine Bluff Studio began in 2001 and is co-owned by John and Debbie Beasley. John designs and sculpts all the products from his studio in Florence, Kentucky.

Site Link



Heron-Tile - Medicine Bluff- 4x8 inches

 Heron Tile – Medicine Bluff Studio

4×8 inches




Medicine Buflf - Koi

 Medicine Bluff  – ‘Koi’




Mother to be - Medicine Bluff

 ‘Mother to be’ – Medicine Bluff Studio





Medicine-Bluff-Tiles Peacock wall panel

 Medicine Bluff Studio ‘Peacock’ wall panel tile


Ellen Rundle


“My studio is in my home where I live in Granada Hills. When I am working on a large jobs it seems my entire property becomes engulfed in clay pieces and equipment. Clay is a material that you have to “live” with since there are many steps in the process and each one requires that the material be in a particular stage of drying before the firing and glazing processes begin. There is always an element of surprise!”


Site Link


Ellen-Rundle Tree Of Life fountain

 Ellen Rundle ‘Tree Of Life’ fountain




Ellen Rundle ceramic bas relief

 Ellen Rundle ceramic sculpture murallete inspired by St. Marks Basilica, Venice

27×36 inches



Creative Concepts – Los Angeles

Site Link



Reproduction of the fountain mural at the Adamson house in Malibu, Californa,-a-classic-Malibu-home-built-in-1930.

 Reproduction of the fountain mural at the Adamson house in Malibu, California

Creative Concepts, LA



LA Creative Concepts tiles Twin peacock tiled mural

 Twin Peacock Wall Mural

Creative Concepts



Majolica tiles at Santa Chiara in Naples

A gothic cloister of majolica tiles at Santa Chiara in Naples (14th century) by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro, Painters Giuseppe and Donato Massa






 Art Nouveau majolica tile





Lisboa Azulejos white and blue tilework





Casa Batllo, Barcelona – design Antoni Gaudi




Harris Strong ceramic tile art

 Harris Strong




Italy---Lake Como Retreat by John & Tina Reid on Flickr


Tiled balcony – Lake Como, Italy

John & Tina Reid, Flickr




Curtiss does Rio

 Tiled steps in Rio

 A photo sent by my eldest son Curtiss from his travels through S.America




Jaipur tiled ceiling at the City Palace

 City Palace – Jaipur, India





 Raku Zebra Tiled Panel – Jill Gerlach, flickr



Lewellen Studio-–-Ginkgo Tile

 Nouveau style ‘Ginkgo’ tile – Lewellen Studio




lynne-meade-porcelain tile

 Lynne Meade





 Tiled Mural at the  Montelupo Fiorentino Italian ceramics trade festival



 Carved clay relief-Earthesong tiles

Celtic style carved relief tile – Earthesong



Motawi- Caribbean Blue Collage Fireplace by Michelle Nelson Design

 Motawi Caribbean Blue Collage Fireplace by Michelle Nelson Design





 Patchwork kitchen floor tiles




Portuguese azulejos wall tiles

 Azulejos wall mural – Church of St. John the Evangelist, Cadaval Palace, Evora





Spanish wall fountain with  hand painted tiles.



 Art Nouveau Majolica---Made in France---1890-to-1910---Ceramic Tile

Art Nouveau Majolica Ceramic Tile

France – 1890-to-1910



Russ Bowling-Flickr-Talavera Tile Fountain

  Talavera Tile Fountain, Mexico

Russ Bowling-Flickr




The Azure Blue Pool, Hearst Castle,-San Simeon California

Azure Blue Pool, Hearst Castle

San Simeon, California



 Indian Wall Tile Art

Indian ceramic wall tiles

photo Umair Ghani



Triptych Tile Panel, Mid Century, by Panos Valsamakis

Mid Century Triptych  Tile Panel by Panos Valsamakis




Gothic floor tiles St. Paul's Cathedral-Detroit

Gothic Pewabic Pottery Tiling by Mary Chase Stratton

St. Paul’s Cathedral-Detroit




Majolica Tiles at the Monastery Santa Chiara

Majolica Tiles at the Monastery Santa Chiara, Naples





 Van Briggle tiles, Colorado Springs




French Longwy Primavera trivet, large form, colorful stylized scene with a female figure,

Longwy Primavera trivet – ceramic tile with minor crazing

Treadway Toomey




NEW POST  —  ‘Clay Forms’


Circus performance in arts



Circus Sculpture Originals---Harlequin by Emin Guliyev

Harlequin by Emin Guliyev


The circus through the ages


Around 500BC, the first Etruscan king of Rome introduced games from Etruria into the Roman Republic at an open air venue called the Circus Maximus (Great Circus), which eventually had a seated capacity for approximately 150,000 spectators. These organized spectacles for the masses included chariot racing, gladiators and sports events. It is recorded that in the 2nd century BC, dancers, scenic artists and flute players were featured along with the use of over 100 wild animals including leopards, elephants and bears in venatio productions. (animal hunting) This circus was U shaped, and similar ones were constructed throughout Europe, (the Hippodrome in Constantinople), for chariot racing and other events.
The modern circus, as we know today, was first conceived in 1768 in London, by Philip Astley, where equestrian feats and bareback acrobatics were performed in a wooden amphitheater featuring a circular arena. The circus ring was used because it allowed audiences to keep sight of the riders during their performances and riding in circles made it possible, through the generation of centrifugal force, for riders to keep their balance while performing their tricks. By 1770, acrobats, rope-dancers, and jugglers were also added to the show and eventually exotic animals were introduced. Astley opened the first circus in Paris, the Amphithéâtre Anglois, in 1782.
In 1793, British equestrian John Bill Ricketts opened the first circus in the United States, in Philadelphia, while Charles Hughes, a former member of Astleys company, performed in the court of Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg, Russia.



Tiffany and Co. Girl riding a circus horse Sliver and enamel

Girl on a circus horse – Tiifany & Co , NY


In 1825 in America, Joshuah Purdy Brown became the first circus entrepreneur to replace the usual wooden construction with a full canvas tent, to allow more mobility and penetration into the rapidly developing new cities in the USA. Circus entrepreneurs Phineas Barnum and William Coup were the first to use rail for transporting their circus, along with the multiple ring circus tent, to increase the capacity. They also introduced the sideshow with more freakish acts and museum oddities.
The circus developed into essentially a visual performing art which was unfettered by language barriers. As a result, it was easily exportable to countries and in 1853 Italian Giuseppe Chiarini took his circus on a world tour. Likewise, the French equestrian Louis Soullier, took his Vienna Circus on a tour of the Balkans and Turkey, then want on to China, where he introduced the circus in 1854. On his return to Europe in 1866, he brought with him Chinese acrobats, who in turn introduced traditional Chinese acts such as perch-pole balancing, diabolo-juggling, plate-spinning and hoop-diving to Western audiences.
The striking visual elements of the circus acts have provided a rich tapestry for interpretation in the arts and most of the details and action from this colorful tradition have been vividly reproduced.




 Porcelain circus clown – ebay




Ceramic plate "Elephants – The Wonder of the Circus" - Artist Franklin Moody for Porcelaine Ariel

 “Elephants – The Wonder of the Circus” – Artist Franklin Moody for Porcelaine Ariel




Gabor-Jeno-(1893-1968)-Acrobats Male circus acrobats in red costumes

Gabor Jeno (1893-1968) ‘Acrobats’, 1933



Ceramic plate - " Clowns - The Heart of the Circus" - Artist Franklin Moody for Porcelaine Ariel

 ” Clowns – The Heart of the Circus” – Artist Franklin Moody for Porcelaine Ariel





 Circus sideshow art




Sparks circus clown 1923

 Clown waltz




Tiffany clown juggler

 Silver juggling clown figurine – Tiffany



Tiffany-co Clown and horse Figurine

 Clown and horse figurine – Tiffany & Co




Vintage Goebel art deco bottle decanter clown-1930s-collectibles-barware-crown

 Art Deco Clown Decanter –  Goebel






 Sideshow spruiker – Circus Chimera

Photographer Norma I. Quintana from the book Circus: A Traveling Life




Leaping lioness-Lennon bros circus

 A leaping lioness with Warren Lennon

Lennon Bros Circus ( est. 1893 ) is one of only two circuses left in Australia with big cats in the program. The three lions at Lennon’s are now 9 years of age: two females and one male from different litters. They were born and bred in the circus, and are the 12th generation born and bred in Australia.




poster for Barnum and Bailey circus - Greatest Show On Earth

 Barnum & Bailey poster




midget clowns

 Vintage midget clown photo




Chinese National Circus acrobats on momcycles

Acrobats at the Chinese National Circus




ANNA CULLITON circus vase

Circus Scenes Vase – Anna Culliton from the series ” Miss Molly’s Ceramic Circus “

glazed earthenware – 2010




Balancing Tiger Tiffany

 Circus Tiger Balancing on a Ball – Tiffany & Co




Andree-Richmond dog standing on horseback

 Circus dog riding horse – Andree Richmond




Anna Plonka two clowns on a horse

 Circus clowns on horse –  Anna Plonka




 Italian Art Deco circus clown – Lenci




Poster Festival Du Cirque 37th

 37th Monte Carlo circus festival poster




athlete-on-the-cube Larisa Churkina

Larisa Churkina – Strongman and acrobat sculpture





French style circus figurines

AuntHattiesAttic – etsy


 marc-chargill circus art

Marc Chagall – le cirque bleu




Bing & Grondahl-(B&G)-PIERROT CLOWN Porcelain Figurines

PIERROT Clown Porcelain Figurines –  Bing & Grondahl (B&G)





 Circus in France painting by Frederick Arthur Bridgman





Noritake Porcelain Art Deco Lustre Trinket Dish Ashtray pierrette Clown Figurine

 Noritake Porcelain Art Deco Lustre Trinket Dish Ashtray pierrette Clown Figurine





 California Pottery lidded clown jar





 Franklin Moody – Circus Aerialists





 Circus Strongman -etsy





 Circus Clown on a Horse – Ann Plonka



Contortion girl circus sculpture by Maria-Paterson

 Circus contortion girl sculpture –  Maria-Paterson




Abstract -vessels of Michael Kay

 Vase decorated with circus performers – Micheal Kay




Young girl standing on a horse

Circus training at a young age


 The circus,-1964-Marc Chagall

‘The Circus’, Marc Chagall



Female circus acrobat with elephant

 Circus acrobat on elephant trunk




Figurine of a clown playing a squeezebox-Matt Prince

Figurine of a clown playing a squeezebox-Matt Prince





 French pierrot clown figurine


 Balancing Act,-1962.-,-Harry-Ransom-Center-A seal puts on a show by balancing a doll before young viewers-at-a-performance-of-the-Krone-Circus-in-Aachen,-Germany

Balancing Act, 1962, Harry Ransom Center – Vintage photo of a seal balancing a doll

Krone Circus in Aachen, Germany



Tuba trunk elephant

 Elephant with a tuba trunk figurine

Waylande Gregory?




Ceramic tile ‘Circus’ – Polia Pillin



Its circus time by Sandra Oropeza

Ceramic statue  ‘Its circus time’  by Sandra Oropeza





Art Deco ‘Flame Leaper’ – Johann Philipp Ferdinand Preiss



Ringling-Brothers-acorbats-by-Nina-Leen for LIFE magazine 1949

Ringling Bros. Circus – Nina Leen




Josef Lorenzl-(Austrian,-1892-1950)-Bronze Jester

 Bronze Jester – Josef Lorenz




Limoges Hand Painted Box, Clown on the Moon

‘Clown on the Moon’ –  Limoges Hand Painted Box,




Lladró porcelain figurines

 Porcelain clown bust – Lladro




Sculptural-vase-Michael Kay

 Girl riding a horse – Michael Kay




Paul Rice--circus elephant Bronx,-New-York, 1963

   Ringling Brothers circus elephant descending from the carriage of a train on the railway in the Bronx, in New York, April 1, 1963.

AP photo – Paul Rice





 Porcelain figurine from Sergey Orlov sculpture




Stangl Pottery-(Trenton,-New-Jersey)creamer

 Ceramic creamer – Strangl Pottery




Tiffany and Co-NY-Silver and enamel

 Circus acrobats from Tiffany & Co , NY





 Porcelain pierrot candy bowl





 Movie “Water For Elephants” – Fox



Waylande Gregory,-“Clowns on Unicycles,”-circa-1932,-painted terracotta

 Painted terracotta “Clowns on Unicycles,”  Waylande Gregory

circa 1932





Trapeze Photo – Gaston Paris

Roger Viollet




Circus clowns




elephantgirl - female circus performer sitting on an elephants knee




NEXT POST  —  ‘Creative Ceramic Tile’


Immortal Clay Longevity


 Symbols of fortune in the ceramic arts



Kiyomizu  longevity tea bowl –   the bowl has the rounded shape of a tortoise shell and flying crane decoration. Both symbols of longevity.


As the New year starts to gain momentum, its always good to ponder health, prosperity and happiness for the coming year. Many of the ancient cultures had art displaying symbols and sacred objects designed to attract these qualities. Elixirs, amulets, charms, fountains conferring perpetual youth, philosophers stones and countless other procedures were pursued in the name of attaining immortality and longevity. Mystics and immortals that had attained illumination and lived long lives were also revered and remembered through the arts. In China this reached a peak during the Ming and Qing dynasties where motifs and stories relating to a long life became fundamental themes in the decorative arts. This is still prevalent in the Eastern arts, and it has been an excellent means to preserve some of the ancient doctrines and wisdom. The more distant epochs are harder to fathom, but ancient mysteries are still being unraveled. A large diversity of flora and animals also appeared in abundance throughout Eastern cultures, in paintings, garments, statues, ceramics and in furniture carvings. They are regarded as the harbingers of good luck, wealth, and happiness.



Casa-Enric-Batlló Barcelona Mallorca from Arnim Schulz on flickr

Barcelona ceramic phoenix facade – the mythological bird that rises from its own ashes to renewed youth and life.

Unlike the phoenix of the West, the Chinese phoenix does not have the connotation of a bird rising from ashes. The Chinese phoenix symbolizes joy and peace.

Photo by  Arnim Schulz on flickr





Qing porcelain gift box set in the shape of the Bagua, used on auspicious occasions and the Chinese New Year for presenting sweets and delicacies.



Carlton-Ware-'Bird-of-Paradise'-Enamelled-Large-Jug Pitcher---1930s


Bird Of Paradise pitcher – Carlton Ware

 This bird is associated with the phoenix. In new Guinea, they believe these birds come from a terrestrial paradise, and call them ” bolon diuata ” ( birds of god )



Chnese Zhang-Guolao-of-the-Eight-Immortals

 One of the Eight Immortals – Zhang Guolao

He was a master in the arts of alchemy, herbs and qigong and was a real historical figure.




 Jade Dragon Tortoise – symbols of luck and longevity



Chinese-vase with tiger

Yuan Dynasty porcelain vase

Tigers were used for the decoration of amulets and ceramics because they are powerful animals, symbolize heroism, and are believed to be able to eat evil spirits, or at least cause them to flee.



Ceramic Chineses-FO-DOG ornaments

Pair of early 20th century Chinese ceramic Fu Dogs

Statues of guardian lions, known in the West as Fu Dogs, have traditionally stood in front of Chinese Imperial palaces and temples. They were believed to have powerful mythical protective benefits.




 Meiping Cloisonne Lotus Vase, China

The spring flowers of magnolias and peonies, are both symbols of wealth. The lotus is the flower of summer’s purity; the chrysanthemum represents the longevity of autumn.  Bamboo is a winter plant, symbolic of long life and peace. The chrysanthemum, which blooms late and has to face the winter, symbolizes people who maintain their virtue despite adversity and temptation.





 Shousan Buddha




 Spinach Jade Foo Lion




 Prosperity Vase – Pierre Bounaud
Chinese symbols for good fortune, happiness, longevity, spirit,
love, and endurance grace the vessel to channel positive energies.



Finely painted vase with an immortal seated on a lotus blossom floating among the waves,and a large dragon

Vase with an immortal seated on a lotus blossom, floating among the waves and a large dragon






 Teapot decorated with Shou symbols, peaches and bats.



Chinese deity holding peaches on a branch and coins riding atop a crane,

Carved figure of a deity riding a crane while holding a peach branch and coins




 Italian twin handled herb jar with a rabbit motif and oak leaves.


RISD Museum

The rabbit is a symbol for luck in both the East and the West. In the East the rabbit represented yin feminine luck, while the dragon was yang masculine luck.



Ceramic vessel with each side in relief with a different scene of samurai, as well as a crane in flight

 Samurai vessel with flying crane




 Lotus koro incense burner with flying crane motif




Ceramic sculpture of a  giant tortoise – Julian Jardine

The tortoise (gui 龟) indicates strength and endurance, has a long life-span and is, therefore, an instirnsic symbol for longevity.



Ceramic boat with eight immortals

 Eight immortals in a dragon boat




 This phoenix stoneware ewer was among the 240,000 Vietnamese trade ceramics and artifacts recovered from the Cu Lao Cham shipwreck

National Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi.



Imari Porcelain Vase with Koi and Sakura Trees

 Porcelain  Imari Vase with Carp and Sakura Trees

The carp is  a symbol for an abundance of children because it produces many eggs.
A pair of carp symbolizes a harmonious marriage



Japanese Imari Porcelain Lobed Dish with Peach of Immortality

Porcelain Lobed Dish with Peach of Immortality –  Japanese Imari


Tao Hua Yuan by Tao Yuan-ming (translated by Rick Davis and David Steelman)

During the Jin Dynasty, a fisherman from Wuling, while following a stream  came across a huge grove of blossoming peach trees. It lined both banks for several hundred paces and included not a single other kind of tree. Petals of the dazzling and fragrant blossoms were falling everywhere in profusion. The peach trees stopped at the stream’s source, where the fisherman came to a mountain with a small opening through which it seemed he could see light. This led him to the mystical kingdom of Shambala. This is how the peach got its reputation.



Japanese Karajishi Shishi Fu Lion-Okimono

 Japanese Karajishi Shishi Fu Lion – Okimono



Japanese Meiji Hirado Fuji---Dragon Tripod Vase

 Meiji Hirado Fuji Mountain—Dragon in clouds tripod Vase



Leys jar with peanut plant,Ming dynasty-(1368–1644),

 Leys jar with peanut plant, Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

The taoists regarded the peanut as a longevity food. Preferably unroasted.



MET Stoneware with inlaid decoration of cranes and clouds under celadon glaze

Korean Goryeo dynasty celadon jar with flying cranes



Ming Dynasty-JiaJing Reign-Five Colored and Blue Underglaze Decoration Porcelain Square Flat Vase With Sea Dragon Pattern

Five Colored and Blue Underglaze Decoration Porcelain Square Flat Vase With Sea Dragon Pattern

 Ming Dynasty -JiaJing Reign




 Netsuke persimmon fruit

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA





 Kiyomizu ware crane and tortoise longevity pair of teacups





Kraak Porcelain – 1570-1645

  In the centre of the dish is an attractive decoration of a flying Chinese bee and a Cicada (insect) perched on a rock in a marshy landscape with flowering peonies and rocks. On the interior wall are four medallions decorated with sunflowers. Also present are the following auspicious symbols –

The ‘Artemisia’ leaf considered to be a symbol of healing and health and considered a good omen. A single peach fruit, ‘Amygdalus persica’ – also known as the fairy fruit. A book scroll with a tassel and ribbon and a ‘lingzhi’ mushroom.






 Porcelain Eight Immortals Plate

Jingdezhen, China



Qing Dynasty Inkstone from the tenth year of QianLong-Reign, carved with the symbol of Happiness immortal crane, God of longevity,

  Inkstone from the tenth year of QianLong Reign, carved with the symbol of Happiness, an immortal crane and the God of longevity

Qing Dynasty



Reticulated oval finely dressed lady walking in-a landscape accompanied by a deer, which-is the symbol of both longevity and riches,PollyLatham

 Reticulated oval plate showing a finely dressed lady walking in a landscape accompanied by a deer,

The deer is the symbol of both longevity and riches. The Taoist physical ” deer exercise ” promotes longevity.

Polly Latham



Round Ceramic incense stick burner with Chinese longevity Shu symbols

 Round Ceramic incense stick burner with Chinese longevity Shu symbols



Running Rabbit Netsuke--Mountain Mahogany

 Running rabbit carved from mountain mahogany – Netsuke, Japan



Shoulao,-God of Longevity,-Qing dynasty-(1644–1911),-Kangxi period-(1662–1722)

 Shoulao, God of Longevity, Qing dynasty (1644–1911)

Kangxi period (1662–1722)





The pine tree (song 松) is a very popular symbol for longevity because it is an evergreen and can endure severe winters. The stork (guan 鹳) is believed to live 1,000 years and is also a symbol of longevity. The stork is frequently shown together with pine trees .




  Egyptian scarab Art Deco vase

Designed by Charles Schneider, France – 1923

A symbol of rebirth and good fortune




This netsuke depicts the Immortal Kasenko in a cloud

 Japanese netsuke depicting the Immortal Kasenko in a cloud




 Tenmoku Pottery “fook luk sau” Tea Pot Set

Fook Luk Sau – the Chinese characters mean LUCK and WEALTH (Fook), HAPPINESS and RECOGNITION (Luk), LONGEVITY (Sau).



Long neck vase with immortals bearing the character for longevity (shou),- Ming dynasty

 Vase with immortals bearing the character for longevity (shou)

Ming dynasty



Chinese Scholars Rock on wooden base

 Scholars rock, China

The interest in collecting rocks for religious or aesthetic purposes began with the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) when  large stones were used to decorate their gardens and courtyards. Scholar’s Rocks (or Gongshi) were stones that were chosen if they resembled or represented mythological and famous mountains and were used by scholars as objects of meditation.




 The qilin (麒 麟) or Chinese unicorn represents good luck , prosperity, goodwill and benevolence.

It is described as having a deer’s body, an ox’s tail, fish scales, five-toed hoofed feet and a horn on its head.







Wedgewood willow plate

 The willow (liu 柳) branches were regarded as being magical and became associated with the life of scholars and poets who drew inspiration while strolling among them.



Vase with immortals offering the peaches of longevity, Qing dynasty (1644–1911),-Kangxi period


Vase depicting immortals offering the peaches of longevity.

The peach symbolizes marriage, spring, justice and especially Taoist immortality.

Qing dynasty, Kangxi period

Sources quoted – primaltrek



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