Jar, 15th century, Vietnam, Bat Trang village

Jar, 15th century, Vietnam, Bat Trang village. Porcelaneous stoneware with underglaze blue, H. 6 in. (15.2 cm). Gift of Dean F. Frasché, 76.074.003 © 2017 Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Although often confused with or considered to be offspring of Chinese Ming dynasty blue-and-white wares, the ceramics of Vietnam differ from their Chinese counterparts in many ways. A creamier, more opaque glaze and a looser pattern in the underglaze decoration are the two most common features that set these wares apart. This particular jar displays some of the most common motifs of Vietnamese underglaze blue wares, such as the peony scroll on the body of the jar and the lotus petals above the foot rim.

Since the fourteenth century, Bat Trang, located in northern Vietnam along the Red River, some thirteen kilometers from Hanoi, has been the center of Vietnamese ceramic production, which still continues today with some five hundred family kilns. It rose to prominence in the fifteenth century when the export of Chinese ceramics from southern ports was temporarily halted. It is possible that many potters from southern China came to Bat Trang at that time. Bat Trang jars were traded and prized throughout Southeast Asia, and have been found in sites as far away as Japan and the Philippines. This jar is an especially fine example and was most likely used for ceremonial or burial purposes, for it displays no sign of extensive use.