Water Dropper in the Shape of a Puffer Fish, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428–1788), late 15th–early 16th century. Porcelaneous stoneware with underglaze cobalt blue, 5.3 x 7.9 cm (2 1/16 x 3 1/8 in.). Gift of Mary and Cheney Cowles, B.A. 1966, 2001.137.11. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
The late fifteenth through early sixteenth century was a golden age for Vietnamese ceramics. The Chinese government had put prohibitions on the export of Chinese ceramics, and the Vietnamese moved quickly to fill the void in the market. The extent of this trade has become more and more apparent with the accidental discovery of shipwrecks, such as the fully loaded ship discovered off Hoi An on Cu Lao Cham Island in 1993–94. The scientific excavation of the wreck took place in three campaigns between 1997 and 1999, and the Vietnamese government authorized the sale of a portion of the ceramics recovered from the site in 2000. This water dropper comes from the Hoi An shipwreck. It shows the approach of Vietnamese potters to decoration in underglaze blue.