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Pius Notter (3)


The pots shown in this article are all from China. Unfortunately it is not possible to know the exact origin or artists who made them, as the pots are not marked. Pots like these were shipped by the potteries to big gouvernment trade centers and then sold at home and abroad. These three pots were probably made by cantonese potteries. They are typical examples for a certain style. The body of the pot is unglazed. The picture frames, edges and motives are covered with a shining metallic glaze that has been applied with a brush. All hand moulded motives have deep symbolic significance.

Age of the pot about 150-180 years, size 33 x 33 x 19 cm (13 x 13 x 7.5 in).

The second and third pot are waterplant containers for water lilies, reed or other water weeds. They are glazed on the inside and have a tiny drainage hole that was sealed with wax or cork-like material. Since the pots are very heavy when filled with water, the hole could be opened to release the water again. To avoid overflowing there are some holes about 3 to 5 cm below the upper edge. I suppose that pots like these were used as fish tanks by less wealthy Chinese people. The function of the upper drainage holes might have been that constant rain would not cause water to flow over the upper edge and put the valued fish at risk. The wealthier Chinese owned fish tanks that were made of precious porcelain. The advantage of the porcelain was that it was glazed in light colours on the inside so the fish could be watched very well. On the upper rim of the pots there is a meandering band of the thunder symbol. The motives are figures and plants that represent symbols of the Chinese culture. On the right side of the pots you can see handles that in addition to their symbolic value also have a practical use: They are moulded with an embossed shape so that the fingers could hold them securely when the pot was transported. These handles are mostly found on bigger pots. In this case they are shaped like lion heads with a ring in the mouth (a symbol of continuity, eternity, recurrence) with nearly human faces. Inside the ring there's another symbol for happiness and a long life. These pots are about 80 to 100 years old.

Peter Krebs

All pots from the bonsai pot museum of PIUS NOTTER, Switzerland. (See also Museum, Pius Notter).

Photographs: Pius Notter.

Translation: Heike van Gunst  

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