Zhangzhou Porcelain Bowl

Zhangzhou Porcelain Bowl

  • Object number – 11-JR
  • Material – Porcelain
  • Place of Origin – China
  • Date – c. 1607-1610
  • Context – Plowzone
  • Location – Study Collection
  • Category – Foodways

Once commonly known as Swatow, this coarse export porcelain currently goes by the preferred name, Zhangzhou, for the location of kilns that produced the ware. Much of this ware was exported along the Southeast Asian trade routes by the Portuguese, then by the Dutch after 1602. The Dutch distinguished between fine porcelain and this coarse porcelain as early as 1596. It is represented in the ceramic load of the 1613 shipwreck Witte Leeuw. Only small quantities were taken back to the Netherlands. Zhangzhou porcelain dates from around 1570 to the mid -17th century.


Fabric: Ranges from a fine-grained white porcelain to coarse grayish porcelaneous stoneware.

Glaze: Varies in color from a clear greenish or bluish color to an opaque grayish white. It is often crackled and very thickly, but carelessly, applied, sometimes leaving unglazed patches on the base which are burnt a reddish brown or buff yellow. The underglaze cobalt blue varies from a watery blue to a purplish black, or a muddy gray. It is usually full of pinholes and shows greenish black specks where the cobalt has burnt through the glaze. The glaze on the footring is not removed so that a crust of sand is often formed on the entire footring and parts of the base and side. The decoration is extremely varied: phoenix with peonies, ducks in ponds, flower scrolls, and dragons or lions.

Form: Zhangzhou ware bowls of various sizes have been recovered from James Fort features.

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