Ewer in the Form of a Phoenix

Date: ca. 15th–16th century

Culture: Vietnam

Medium: Stoneware with underglaze cobalt blue decoration

Dimensions: H. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Betty and John R. Menke, 1992

Accession Number: 1992.72.1


Fanciful shapes, including vessels in the form of birds, animals, and human figures, as well as abstract designs characterize blue-and-white and other ceramic wares produced in Vietnam for domestic use and export in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. An elaborate crest caps the pronounced head of this phoenix-shaped ewer. His detailed wings cling to the sides of the body, which is decorated with scattered featherlike clumps painted in underglaze blue. A whimsical two-part handle is placed along the back. This is one of several such vessels found in Indonesia, an active market for Chinese and Southeast Asian wares. In addition to figural and other vessels, the Vietnamese kilns also produced tiles for the decoration of mosques and other Indonesian buildings.