A very large Chinese export wine pot
A very large Chinese wine ewer or pot, and cover, with bird, dragon and figure design. Extensively embellished with gold decoration to figures and spout. Inscribed ‘Daming Xuande’ but much later, 18th or 19th century. No grate to the spout which suggests it is a wine pot rather than a tea pot, although it may have been shipped as a teapot. Very well decorated. A stunning piece in excellent condition.
‘The first significant imports of tea to Europe arrived in the early years of the 17th century. They came thanks to Portugal’s development of sea-routes to China and the trading skills of the Dutch. Surprisingly, there is debate as to whether the Chinese used teapots at this time. If so, they would have represented quite a recent change to the traditional method of making tea, in which the drink was brewed in open pans or in the actual cup.
Assuming it existed, the Chinese teapot was indistinguishable from what is termed a wine-pot or wine-ewer. Vessels of this type were exported along with the tea itself and if not actually intended for tea-making, may have been interpreted as being so here in the West. A true distinction between wine-ewers and teapots was only established after 1694, when the British East India Company directed that teapots made for them in China must have “a grate… before the spout”. In other words, they wanted a sort of pierced barrier where the tea enters the spout so as to hold back the tea-leaves.’ (Courtesy Hampshire Cultural Trust)