Tag Archives: Purple Dragon

Dragons of clay


Ceramic Dragon Art


Chinese Dragon BottleDragon motif baluster vase


It is auspicious to honour the magnanimous dragon in a Dragon Year. As it’s a Water Dragon in 2012, and many other harmonic forces are  aligning too, such as Neptune  and Uranus in Pisces ( a powerful water aspect ), intuitive and artistic inspiration will be well aspected, especially with the abstract and impressionistic. Dragon symbol The dragon is a mythological animal of Chinese origin, and a member of the Naga (Sanskrit) family of serpentine creatures who protect Buddhism. Japan’s dragon lore comes predominantly from China. Images of the reptilian dragon are found throughout Asia, and the pictorial form most widely recognized today was already prevalent in Chinese ink paintings in the Tang period (9th century AD).  In contrast to Western mythology, Asian dragons are rarely depicted as malevolent. Although fearsome and powerful, dragons are equally considered just, benevolent, and the bringers of wealth and good fortune. The dragon is also considered a shape shifter who can assume human form and mate with people. The Dragon has the head of a camel, horns or a deer, eyes of a hare, scales of a carp, paws of a tiger, and claws resembling those of an eagle. In addition it has whiskers, a bright jewel under its chin, and a measure on the top of its head which enables it to ascend to Heaven at will. This is merely a general description and does not apply to all dragons, some of which have heads of so extraordinary a kind that they cannot be compared with anything in the animal kingdom. The breath of the Dragon changes into clouds from which come either rain or fire. It is able to expand or contract its body, and in addition it has the power of transformation and invisibility. In the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1911), only the imperial family was allowed to use dragons to decorate their homes, furniture, and clothes.  The dragon is the only mythical animal among the twelve zodiac animals, bringing special auspices to the year of the dragon. In addition, the dragon is believed to possess supernatural powers such as controlling the rain. As a result, it is one of the most popular themes for Asian artists.

black lidded dragon vessel
Silver dragon on black


Blue ceramic dragon

 Mid 15th Century Porcelain Dragon Ewer (Vietnam)

Associated with the aquatic aspects of creation, dragons are central themes in Vietnamese cosmology and it was believed that fish of great age transformed themselves into dragons capable of flight. The Ly dynasty named its capital Thang Long or ‘rising dragon’, ( Art Gallery NSW )


 A ceramic tile mural of a mythical dragon in Beijing. It’s called the Nine Dragon screen.

escending dragon vietnam

Descending Dragon, Hanoi, Vietnam. ( Wonderfully animated ! )

Red dragon vaseGold dragon on red glaze vessel

dragon handled incense censerDragon Handled incense censer

Takht-i Sulayman, Iran, 14th century. Il-khanid period.

Rare 1950s Japan Dragon Ceramic Plate

Dragon Oil Burner Japan

Japanese Dragon Oil Burner

Dragon Eggs Ceramic Dragon Egg,  18 inches high. Unfortunately, to the dismay of the owner, they were stolen. ( frogspondrock.com )


Wedgewood Dragon BowlEnglish Wedgwood Cobalt Blue 8 sided bowl


English Wedgwood Cobalt Blue “Dragon Lustre” Bowl, 1920.


Large Green Dragon

Hanoi green dragonGreen dragon entrance


The 37m long ceramic dragons, which were registered for the Vietnam Book of Records, were moved and set up on West Lake, Hanoi, on January 3 to celebrate the Lunar New Year Festival.

The 9 metre tall  dragons, made by craftsmen from Bat Trang Ceramic Village, had been displayed at the Bach Thao botanical gardens to mark the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi.

According to cultural researchers, dragons should be located at solemn places close to water and historical relics and West Lake was the most suitable area.

Lidded Yellow Dragon VaseBlack dragon on yellow vase


   Pair Of Plain Tri-colored Porcelain Gu-shaped Vases with a Dragon Pattern, Qing Dynasty: Kang Xi Imperial Ware

     Dragon Roof Tile

A glazed  model of a dragon roof tile, China Qing Dynasty. Nagel



 Tomb of Emperor MinhMang ,Vietnam ( Richard-Seaman .com )



 Choson Dynasty Dragon Jar -The short-necked, inverted pear-shaped Eighteenth Century jar is 19 inches high and decorated in brilliant cobalt blue with scrolls and a unique vigorously drawn five-clawed dragon. It was sold to a collector in 2002 for $1.2 million. This price was Butterfields’ highest selling singular lot in its 137-year history at the time.

Japanese Dragon Tattoo

Japanese Dragon Tattoo

Giant serpent

Giant Sea Dragon – Crosby, Mn

 ‘Panlong vase’ by designer chen-hsu liu and craft artist shi-ren lu working with traditional koji ceramic and contemporary shapes. Taiwan

Badge-(Lizi)-of-the-Imperial Prince

Badge (Lizi) of the Imperial Prince with Dragon, China, late Ming dynasty (1368-1644), mid-seventeenth century.


garden dragon http://ceramicemporium.wordpress.com/

dragon motif ginger jar

Dragon ceramic ginger jarScrafitto Dragon decorative vessel

Scrafitto Dragon decorative vessel

Photo (c) Overstock.com


Dragon Incense Pot

Dragon Incense Pot

Charlotte Rhead Tube Lined Manchu Charger

Charlotte Rhead Tube Lined Manchu Dragon Charger

Chinese copper dragon teapot

Chinese copper dragon teapot

Chinese porcelain blue & yellow vase

Chinese porcelain blue & yellow dragon vase

Dragon Moriaga Hand Painted coffee pot

Dragon Moriaga Hand Painted coffee pot


Chinese blue white dragon teapot

Hirado ware Dragon Vase

Japan Vase with Everted Fluted Lip and Raised Dragon Decor, 19th century Ceramic, Hirado ware; porcelain with underglaze blue.


Double dragon vase

Ceramic vase with dragon handles and molded design covered in a mustard yellow and green glaze over a red clay body.

( Cowan Auctions )


Amphora dragon vase


Antique Chinese Qing Dynasty Period hand painted black and gilt vase depicting dragon and fish.

Antique Nippon Moriage Dragon Vase

Antique Nippon Moriage Dragon Vase

Chinese Blue and White Vase

Chinese Blue and White Vase

Chinese celadon porcelain vase

Chinese dragon celadon porcelain vase.

( Liveauctioneers )

Chinese Qianlong tall dragon vase

Chinese Qianlong tall vase, the vase with detailed 5-toed dragon chasing the flaming pearl of wisdom.

Qing dynasty dragon vase

Qing dynasty dragon vase

Chinese Dragon Teapot

Chinese Dragon Teapot

green ceramic dragonGreen Dragon





Emperor Qianlong’s hidden Palace


The restoration  of a lavish suite in the Forbidden City of the Quin Dynasty


Beijing’s sprawling Forbidden City—the size of 135 football fields—is a dizzying array of magnificent receiving halls and intimate quarters surrounded by 28-foot-thick walls. Yet in the northeast tip of the compound lies a unique two-acre retreat, known simply as the “Qianlong Garden”

Juanqinzhai Palace

For decades stories circulated among art historians of a mothballed Qing Dynasty retreat within the Forbidden City,( the Imperial behemoth with 8,700 rooms that anchors the Chinese capital}). Word eventually reached the World Monuments Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving imperiled historic sites. Six years and $3 million later the first building of the Palace of  Tranquillity and Longevity ( Juanqinzhai ) had been meticulously restored ( see above )  and will open to the public in the coming months.

When restorers opened the door on the Qianlong Emperor’s favourite studio in the Forbidden City, dust three inches thick on the exquisitely carved surfaces bore testament to decades of abandonment. “It felt like the last emperor had just turned the key in the door and left,” was the verdict of one expert. The studio was built in the late 18th century as part of a bigger retirement retreat by the Qianlong Emperor. He died in 1795 before the building was completed but Juanqinzhai was finished exactly as he wanted – a mini-palace within a palace.

Originally built in 1776, during the 41st year of Qianlong’s 60-year reign, Juanqinzhai was part of a two-acre complex of ornate gardens and pavilions designed by the emperor for his own pleasure and to use as a retreat for meditation and writing poetry. The rooms of Juanqinzhai, which included a theatre, were built from the finest materials, including bamboo-threaded flooring, white jade tablets and intricately painted silk wall panels. Only a few embroidery workers from Suzhou province still know the traditional techniques of the exquisite double-sided embroidery used in this project. In the Juanqinzhai’s studio, the emperor would display his favourite gemstones, ceramics, porcelain and artwork.

 The Qianlong Emperor spared no expense on construction materials for this palatial gem, whose 27 rooms were crafted of fine hardwoods lavishly inlaid with jade and porcelain. Inside, they brimmed with fantastic murals, priceless furnishings, and exotic decorative arts.


When the Qianlong emperor ascended to the Chinese throne in 1736, the 25-year-old monarch was one of the richest men in the world. He could afford to indulge his appetite for the finer things in life during his more than 60 years on the throne. His reign is considered one of the greatest periods in the history of Chinese art.

The Qianlong emperor was one of the longest-reigning and most enlightened rulers of the Chinese Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The Qing were Manchurian horsemen who, like other foreign rulers, absorbed the culture and administrative system of China.

The Qianlong Emperor was a major patron of the arts, seeing himself as an important “preserver and restorer” of Chinese culture. He had an insatiable appetite for collecting, and acquired much of China’s “great private collections” by any means necessary, and reintegrated their treasures into the imperial collection. Qianlong, more than any other Manchu emperor, lavished the imperial collection with his attention and effort. The Emperor was also particularly interested in collecting ancient bronzes, bronze mirrors and seals, in addition to pottery, ceramics and applied arts such as enameling, metal work and lacquer work, which flourished during his reign.

The emperor frequently invited foreign artists to Beijing to pass on their skills to his artisans. Europeans shared their knowledge of Western painting techniques, glassware, painted enamels and cloisonne. Mughal craftsmen from northern India were summoned to the palace workshops for their expertise in carving jade and glass.

The extravagance of the Qianlong Emperor was so great that he ultimately bankrupted the country. As the Taoists like to claim : “Like the yin and yang cycle of life; when one attains the maximum yang, there is only one direction to go.”


Qianlong-Emperor Brocade throne

Qianlong began his reign with about 33,950,000 taels of silver in Treasury surplus. At the peak of Qianlong’s reign, around 1775, even with further tax cuts, the treasury surplus still reached 73,900,000 taels, a record unmatched by his predecessors, Kangxi or Yongzheng both of whom had implemented remarkable tax cut policies

However, due to numerous factors such as long term embezzlement and corruption by officials, frequent expeditions South, huge palace constructions, many war and rebellion campaigns as well as his own extravagant lifestyle, all of these cost the treasury a total of 150,200,000 silver taels.This, coupled with his senior age and the lack of political reforms, ushered the beginning of the gradual decline and eventual demise of the Qing dynasty and empire, casting a shadow over his glorious and brilliant political life.

All the designs from the palace workshops in Beijing, which produced wares for the imperial family, were required to pass official muster. Therefore, most of the works produced during his reign were a fair representation of the emperor’s taste, which some claim reflects a near pinnacle of Chinese art.

Ceramic art from  the Qianlong era :

Qianlong square vase in a green celadon with ba qua symbpls

Qianlong Celadon Vase (1736-1795)

Circular mouth, short neck, tall and square body, foot ring.  The surface of the glaze is covered with a fine craquelé with sharp lines and a clear stratification with equally beautiful shallow and deep cracks. The four sides of the vase have the eight trigrams (bagua) in convex relief.

Qianlong rectangular baluster vase with tubular ears and ‘happiness’ and ‘longevity’ in underglaze blue

Rectangular baluster shaped vase with tubular ears and ‘happiness’ and ‘longevity’ in underglaze blue

 Vases with tubular ears are replicas of the touhu of the Han era: a type of pot used in a drinking game. These vases were current under the Song and also reproduced in the kilns at Jingdezhen under the Qing.

Qianlong Emperor fine porcelain vaseA fine porcelain from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799 CE) of the Qing dynasty. (Courtesy of the National Palace Museum)




Emporer Qianlong purple teapot

Emperor  QianLong  liked drinking tea his whole life, this is one of his favoured purple teapots.




qianlong-vase-The mouth has been painted with a pattern of twined sprigs and pink lotuses, the belly with a pattern of twined sprigsA vase with eight  auspicious Buddhist emblems in fencai on turquoise.

This model is called a bumba vase after a type of ritual metal ewer used in monasteries and temples in the Tibetan region. They were used in the designation and succession of ‘living Buddhas and prodigies’: Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas. They stand witness to the intimate ties between the Qing court and  Tibetan Buddhism as well as  their mutual historical influences: a sort of cultural osmosis between the Chinese and the Tibetan world.

Qianlong Porcelain Box brush stand in underglaze blue   This brush stand in underglaze blue is a hollow parallelepiped with five round openings and one rectangular opening on top. The spaces between the openings are decorated with auspicious clouds in the shape of the classical Chinese character . The four sides have been painted with the ‘Eight Immortals’.



Alice Cheng's famille-rose vase Floral Medallion Bottle Gourd VaseA famille-rose vase, with the seal mark of the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1795). The vase sold at a Hong Kong auction for HK$252.7 million ($32.6 million) and was bought by collector Alice Cheng.



Qianlong Landscape Vase - painted in fencai with a forest full of deer frolicking between green pines and cypresses, cragged rocks and flowing creeks.Vase with ears in the shape of hornless dragons and a hundred deer in fencai

This hundred deer vase has been painted with a forest full of deer frolicking between green pines and cypresses, cragged rocks and flowing creeks.



Qianlong Pink Vase with figures of playing children and Indian lotus scrolls in fencai on red

Vase with figures of playing children and Indian lotus scrolls in fencai on red

Fencai (literally: ‘pastel colours’) is a type of overglaze decoration fired at low temperature. It has been produced from the times of the Qing emperor Kangxi. Firstly, the white clay is covered with a layer of glaze and fired at high temperature. Next, a polychromatic painting is applied and fired at less than 700oC.



Qianlong imitation celadon glaze (fangru) with 8 sets of vertical bow string decoartionQianlong Melon-shaped vase with imitation celadon glaze (fangru) with 8 sets of vertical bow strings.



Ritual Water Vessels. Photo by Mharrsch( Flickr)

Enameled Porcelain Vase Qing DynastyQing Dynaasty Yellow Porcelain Enameled Vase, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Photo by Mharrsch




Carved Dragon Amythest CupCarved Dragon Purple Amethyst Glass cup




Ming Pilgrim Flask

Pilgrim flask decorated with peaches and pomegrenates; Ming Dynasty, 1st half of 17th century

Museum Rietberg, Zurich




Ming Figurine reclining lady

Porcelain figurine

Ming Blue Vase

An Exceptionally Rare Blue-Glazed Flask-Form Ming Vase.

Christie’s Images




 ''clair de lune'' porcelain vase

A ”clair de lune” Qing dynasty porcelain vase .

Translucent, sky blue glaze of great quality. ( Photo Czerny’s )




blue glazed vase

Qianlong porcelain vase. 

18th century

Photo Czerny