Large Swatow Dish, 17th Century
Large swatow dish, 17th Century, decorated to the central roundel with a lakeside scene of ducks perching and flying amongst rockwork and flowers, the wide border with ten panels containing fruiting boughs, flowers, pine and bamboo.
The Dutch term ‘Swatow’ mistakenly refers to Shantou, the port from which these wares were supposed to have been exported. They were produced specifically for export in small private kilns at various sites across Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, during a period in which the end of the ban on all but government controlled trade in 1567 and Jingdezhen’s inability to meet the growing demands of overseas market led to a great increase in production of highly decorative wares by private kilns. Made using locally available materials from Zhangzhou, the dish is typical in having a body largely made up of china stone (in turn made up of quartz and mica, products of decomposed granite), and so is high in silica, resulting in a ‘shorter’ and glassier body texture. The glaze covers the entire dish, including the foot, and thus the coarse sand spread on the bottom of the saggar during firing to prevent items sticking together, has adhered to the base.