Chicken cup


Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Chenghua mark and period (1465–87)

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 220

This type of small, bowl-shaped vessel from the imperial kiln of the mid-Ming dynasty has been cherished as the pinnacle of fine Chinese porcelain. The decoration was achieved through a complicated process. First, the design was drawn in cobalt blue on the unfired vessel. After glazing and high-temperature firing, the images were filled in with overglaze enamel pigments and then it was fired at a lower temperature to bring out the vibrant colors. Known as “chicken cups” for their imagery, these vessels convey a core Chinese value: nurturing the young is essential for the continuation of the family line.

Chicken cup, Porcelain painted in underglaze cobalt blue and overglaze colored enamel (Jingdezhen ware), China

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