Jug with Portuguese arms

Date: ca. 1520–40

Culture: Chinese, for Portuguese market

Medium: Hard-paste porcelain with cobalt blue under transparent glaze (Jingdezhen ware)

Dimensions: Height: 7 3/8 in. (18.7 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Porcelain-Export

Credit Line: Helena Woolworth McCann Collection, Purchase, Winfield Foundation Gift, 1961

Accession Number: 61.196


This ewer with the Portuguese royal arms is witness to the first East-West trade in Chinese porcelain carried on by the Portuguese in the mid-sixteenth century. The form is neither Chinese nor European; rather, it is based on an Islamic metalwork vessel made for the Near Eastern market that was appropriated for the new European trade. The Chinese painters have misunderstood the Portuguese coat of arms, which appears upside down.