"Ovoid Chinese Jars In The White And Blue Style With Dragons"Ovoid faience jars in the white and blue style, with a spout and four handles.
Decoration of blue dragons with four claws.
These two Chinese jars were probably used for the preservation of oils.
A beneficial animal and an auspicious sign in China, the dragon can cross the sky and bring the fertilizing rain to the earth; it is therefore often associated with clouds or rivers. It is one of the four celestial animals of ancient China, with the phoenix, the qilin and the turtle. It is associated with the East, wood, spring and the colour green in the five Chinese elements. It is also the fifth sign of the Chinese zodiac.
The Song Dynasty (960-1279) is a landmark in the development of the iconography of the dragon: its body, before represented as that of a beast with a distinct tail, became serpetin and this evolution continued under the Yuan, Ming and Qingdynasties. Extremely rich and diverse, the iconography of the dragon has different characteristics under each dynasty and has declined in multiple variants and patterns, including regional ones. This is the case in these two jars coming from the south of China: the iconography of the Chinese dragon approaches the Vietnamese iconography with dragons possessing long combs in defined "waves".
In the 13th century a very strict rule was introduced: the dragon was chosen to represent the state and was extended to all the imperial furniture and the wardrobe. In the Ming and Qing, the four-clawed dragons are devolved to the princes (the five-clawed dragons are reserved for the emperor and those with three claws to the nobles and scholars).