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PD0164

Aquarium
Author: Unknown
Origin: China
Dating: 18th century (Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period)
Material: Porcelain
Dimensions (cm): 41,5 x Ø 63,5
Inv. no.: PD0164

A large aquarium with matte gold Buddhist lion head handles (without the respective rings).

It is of white porcelain, painted with polychrome enamels on a thick glaze. The predominant colours in the most expressive floral elements are iron red, pink, orange and blue and the details are painted in gold.

The object is decorated with six white leaf-shaped areas, comprising three small branches of chrysanthemums and peonies in blue and red, alternating with chrysanthemum corollas. The bottom is painted in two shades of blue, brown wavy strokes and blue clouds, bordered by a green stroke in black.

The interior is painted with a row of trefoils. On the wall and in the bottom, one may see carp, crabs and crayfish, depicted in the enamel shades of the Famille-Rose, encircled by lotus leaves, flowering branches and several small flowers.

This type of piece is characterized not only by its large dimensions, but also for the carefully selected decoration. Fish bowls, such as this one, were widely appreciated in Europe in general and particularly in Portugal. In Europe, their function is unknown. In China, it is known they were recurrently used to decorate chambers.

“Flora in the Palace’s Collections”
«The vast Paeoniaceae family is distributed throughout all temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. In Europe, the most widespread species are the shrubs – the female Paeonia officinalis (L.) and the male Paeonia mascula (L.), which, together, hybridize and produce several subspecies and related species.
[…]
[M]ythological references to the plant are always associated with medicine and healing. Its name derives from Paeon, a student of the god of medicine – Asclepius – who, at the request of Leto – mother of Apollo and goddess of fertility – fetch a magic root, that grew on Mount Olympus, to relieve the pains of childbirth. Out of spite, Asclepius tried to kill his pupil, but Zeus saved him and transformed him into a peony flower. Its seeds were effectively used by pregnant women during classical antiquity. Nowadays, its analgesic and antispasmodic action has been proven and the pharmacological potential of the plant for pain relief is being studied.
[…]
In the mid-17th century China, other species of peonies aroused the curiosity of Europe. An account by Jean Nieuhof, of the Dutch East India Company, describes a flower called the queen of flowers that grew in Sichuan Province. It was similar to a rose, but larger and more beautiful, without fragrance nor thorns, with prostrate leaves, white or purple, sometimes also yellow or pink, it was planted as a tree and protected in all the gardens that belonged to the Emperor.
[…]
[I]n the decoration of Chinese porcelain, it is the peony mudan that is most represented, precisely because of its great symbolic value – being associated with imperial glory, fortune and honor.
[…]
[In this aquarium] peonies are represented along with wild apple blossoms and white magnolia flowers which, in the set of flower names – in their homophonic relationship with auspicious nouns – express the wish “May your treasures fill the jade hall” (yùtáng fùguì).

As they bloom during the third month of the lunar calendar, peonies represent spring.»
Sasha Assis Lima

Objeto museológico (PDB)