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Nanjing Museum


In most art museums, one seldom sees bonsai pots on display, perhaps one or two in the Asian Art or Ceramic section. The following photographs were taken in the Nanjing Museum, China, in 2004. The unusual high number of pots displayed in the Nanjing Museum might be due to a temporary special exhibition rather than permanent displays. They are all behind glass, and the photos are, therefore, not very sharp and have reflections or glares.

17th – Early 18th Century Kangxi Period Pots:

The Kangxi period pots are gorgeous and highly artistic.  The clay, glaze and craftsmanship were of superb qualities. The Kangxi period was at the golden age of the Qing dynasty.

Qing dynasty Kangxi (1662-1722) blue and white round pot.

Qing dynasty Kangxi (1662-1722) blue and white rectangular pot with the mythical Eight Immortals. H: 18 cm, W: 33 cm, D: 22cm.

Qing dynasty Kangxi blue and white hexagonal pot.

Peter Krebs, a friend and a famous German bonsai potter, has written an excellent article telling stories of the Eight Immortals depicted on blue and white pots in his collection. To find out about the Eight Immortals, click here:
The Kangxi blue and white porcelains are characterized by deep cobalt-based underglaze blue in shades of varying gradations. Another unique feature is the sun in Kangxi blue and white porcelains was drawn as a small, unfilled circle; you can find it near the top of the lip in the square pot, and on the left and right panels of the hexagonal pot. But in the colorful famille verte porcelains, the sun was filled in red.


Qing dynasty Kangxi famille verte (wucai) square pot with two immortals. H: 32cm W at the top: 58.5 cm W at the feet: 41 cm.

Kangxi famille verte round pot on bean-green color glaze as background. H: 32.9 cm. Top diameter 60.9 cm, base diameter 39 cm.

Another Kangxi Wucai (five color glaze, a transition from famille verte to famille rose glaze) pot with Eight Riders Bringing Treasures. Note the interesting shape of the pot.

Late 19th Century Pots:

Late 19th century saw the end of the Qing dynasty with a lot of turmoils. Although these pots were made for the imperial households, they were nowhere close to those made during the 17th - 18th centuries, the peak periods of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong reigns.

Late 19th century famille rose (fencai) square pot made for Empress Dowager Cixi’s use, the red mark reads “Dayazhai”, a palace building where she lived. The design is a peony which symbolizes prospertiy.


Late 19th century famille rose pot with blue background,  Express Cixi’s “Dayazhai” mark,

Late 19th century Empress Cixi Dayazhai famille rose bulb pot in the shape of a silver ingot used as hard currency in China.

Text and photographs: Hoe Chuah