Dating: c.1780 (Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period)
Dimensions (cm): 15,1 x Ø 34,5
Inv. no.: PD0416
A punch bowl, in Chinese porcelain, made for the Portuguese India Company. It is decorated, internally and externally, with three depictions referring to the Order of the Garter, besides additional floral decoration on the inside border and on the outside surface.
It was used to make and serve punch (a popular beverage of the age with rum, sugar and orange, lemon or lime juice), that would be served hot or cold.
Chinese porcelain, due to its soft touch and quality, always satisfied the eclectic taste of the wealthier European clients who bought it to enrich or decorate their houses. It was common for them to order the pieces and ask for the decoration to be European instead of the typical Chinese one.
The reference to the Order of the Garter – which is one of the oldest and the highest British Military Orders – is considered to be the most prestigious commendation in the United Kingdom.
The Order was created by King Edward III around 1348, having the original name, which translated to a narrow ‘link between men’ or a tight ‘tie between men’. It was replaced by a legend of a simple garter for holding up stockings.
According to the legend, Kind Edward III was dancing with the Countess of Salisbury in an important Ball when one of her blue garters fell to the ground, which was nothing more than a type of feminine Noblewomans’ undergarment used at the time. When he picked it up and tied it around the Countess’s leg, the King noticed that the other guests were staring at them with smiles and murmurs. In anger, he exclaimed in French (the common language in the English Court at the time): ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ (‘Shamed be the person who thinks ill of it’), a phrase that became the motto of the Order. He also said he would make that small blue garter so glorious, everyone would end up wanting one.
Since this story is a legend, nothing is 100% certain. Nonetheless, what is certain is that the Order of the Garter was created by King Edward III; with the symbol being a dark blue garter with a golden border in which the words that the King supposedly said are written in French.
The Order of the Garter sponsored the Scout movement, this being the reason why all scouts wear a piece of fabric hanging on the outside part of the stockings of the uniform, stuck with the so-called garter. The Scouting Movement was allowed to use the garter with a tab because Lord Baden-Powell was a Member of the Order.