TWO CHINESE STONEWARE 'MARTABAN' STORAGE JARS
Southern China, 17th/18th century
One brown glazed and one in blue glaze, both decorated with dragons.
H. 56 cm and 58 cm
These large stoneware jars became to be known as martabans (or martavaans in Dutch) because Arab, Indian, Chinese and later European traders purchased them often in the port of Martaban, on the west coast of Burma. Although these jars were primarily made to hold water, wine, edible oils and pickles on long sea-voyages, in Indonesia, particularly on Borneo, some were treated as ancestral sacred vessels in which resided spirits and household gods or they were used to store the bones of the deceased. Martabans were not only made in Southern China but probably also in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodja and the earliest recordings are from the 14th century.
A CHINESE BROWN-GLAZED STONEWARE 'MARTABAN' STORAGE JAR
Southern China, 17th century
With a decoration of engraved dragons chasing flaming pearls, with five lion masks applied to the neck.
H. 58 cm
Instead of the usual loops on the shoulder of the jar, to run a rope through to fasten a lid, this jar has five decorative lion masks with holes for the same purpose. The body of this jar has an engraved decoration showing two dragons pursuing flaming pearls among trailing clouds over waves. Dragons pursuing pearls are very common and ancient images in Chinese (Buddhist) decorative art.
A LARGE CHINESE BLUE-GLAZED STONEWARE STORAGE JAR WITH LID AND BRONZE MOUNTS
China, Canton, early 19th century
Of plain baluster shape, with deep blue glaze.
H. 65.5 cm
Large jars or tibores apparently were often fitted in Mexico with locking mounts and used as chocolateros in Spanish America and Spain, where tea drinking never caught on the way it did in England and Holland but chocolate drinking was common since the 17th century. The present plain large blue Canton storage jar is quite unusual. Most of the Canton jars with brass or metal mounts are decorated, often in Famille Rose. In Holland and England these jars were probably used as tea containers with locks to protect their precious contents (for one decorated in polychrome enamels see: Uit Verre Streken, June 2010, no.23).