Origin: Jingdezhen Kilns, China
Dating: c.1690 (Qing Dynasty, Kangxi period)
Dimensions (cm): 106,5 x Ø 48
Inv. no.: PD0216
One of two “sentinel” pots, of extraordinary quality, whose decoration in cobalt blue narrates two distinct pairs of episodes in which men, women and children intervene. It is believed that these episodes were inspired by the famous Chinese epic novel Sānguó Yǎnyì (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written in the 14th century by Luo Guanzhong. The novel narrates the turbulent years at the end of the Han Dynasty (169-280 AD). The work, with over 800,000 words and almost 1,000 characters, is as valuable to China as Shakespeare is to Anglo-Saxon literature.
It is believed that “Sentinel Pots” would decorate the interiors of palaces, flanking the access to halls and replacing the men who stood there as “sentinels or guards of honour”. In other words, the pots replaced the men and took their name. Another theory for the adoption of the term “Sentinel Pot” originated in a rather unusual exchange of goods between Augustus the Strong – Elector of Saxony and King of Poland – and Wilhelm I of Prussia. Augustus traded a regiment of fit, well-trained men for 151 pieces of oriental porcelain from the palaces of Charlottenburg and Oranienburg. Among the pieces, there were 48 large blue and white lidded pots, which, due to their size, were compared to the Regiment’s men.