White Chinese glazed porcelain hexagonal bowl. The bowl is decorated with the attributes of the Eight Immortals of Taoism. Each of the six exterior sides of the bowl display a unique design, and the inside of the bowl features two more distinct motifs. There are ribbons, flowers, and leaves of varying colors present on all eight of the designs. One panel depicts two brown rectangular objects tied together with blue ribbion, possibly clappers. Another panel has a brown leaf shaped object with a plume and extended handle, possibly a fan. The next panel is decorated with a long cyclindrical object that is yellow with brown spots. Two short, yellow, antenna shaped tubes extend out from one side of the cylinder. Another panel depicts a brown basket that contains pink and pale yellow flowers. The next panel on the bowl displays a long clyindrical object with yellow and brown stripes. There are small holes on the top of object, which is possibly indicative of a wind instrument. The last exterior panel depicts a yellow object that is shaped like a gourd. Pink smoke is being emitted from the object, and within the smoke there are two orange bats. On the inside of the bowl, a vase is depicted that has a sheathed sword running through it. Direclty on top of the vase there is a tray that is holding numerous different types of flowers. On the bottom of the bowl there is a blue square shaped inscription of Chinese letters. The bowl sits on a wooden stand that is wrapped in a black and tan meander patterned fabric.
Bowl with Attributes of the Eight Taoist Immortals,
"Famille rose" style enamels on white glazed porcelain
21 x 22 cm (8 1/4 x 8 11/16 in.)
The Eight Immortals of Taoism are beings that were born human and later transformed into divine entities that are immortal and possess supernatural powers. Each Immortal has different individual symbols that are representative of them. The Eight Immortals play an important spiritual and cultural role in China. The bowl depicts the iconography of each of the Immortals, and is dated to the Yongzheng Emperor who ruled from 1722 to 1735 as the fifth emperor of the Qing Dynasty. The provenance of the bowl can't be definitively determined, but it is known to have entered Isabella Stewart Gardner’s collection by the 1890’s. It is likely one of the fourteen Chinese pieces that Isabella notes in her List of Things for Museum that was written between March 25, 1897 and December 26, 1898. Isabella documented many of the objects in her collection and her List of Things for the Museum is made up of handwritten paper acquisition records that were bound together with gilded leather.