About this object

A high quality porcelain vase decorated using the Ming technique of ‘heaped and piled effect’. The artist applied thousands of tiny blue cobalt dots to painted designs. Cobalt was a very expensive material - originally imported from the Near East, but native sources were used later. The base is decorated with bands of water and floral motifs. The body with the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism and the stem with lotus and vine designs. The vase is in two parts with the stem being easily removable from the main body.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Asia: Eastern Asia: China: Jiangxi: Jingdezhen
  • Date made
    18th Century
  • Materials
    Pigment; Porcelain
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, World Cultures
  • Acquisition
    From the Collection of Sir Charles Bell
  • Collector
    Charles Alfred Bell
  • Place collected
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]
  • Date collected
    16th October 1921
  • Measurements
    376 mm; 14 13/16 in
  • Note
    Curator's note: This looks like an Imperial ware vase and it is likely to have come to Bell via the Dalai Lama, in fact that historical provenance has always been attached to this object, but on a detailed inspection of the List of Curios this item cannot be found.

    Written by Emma Martin
  • Related people
    13th Dalai Lama (gifted by); Charles Alfred Bell (Collector)

Where is this object from?

Explore related


  • Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920 - 1921

    Start date: 1920-11-17
    End date: 1920-11-17
    Description: Having retired from the Indian Civil Service in 1918, due to health problems, Bell was recalled to service in 1920. His decision to return rested upon the decision to send him to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, a place that he had never been granted permission to visit, but which the 13th Dalai Lama had repeatedlyinvited him to. While waiting in Gyantse Bell received the call that he could proceed to Lhasa and so during November 1920, Bell, the chief medical officer Mr Dyer (who was later replaced by Col. Kennedy) and a large entourage of staff and advisors, including Palhese, Rabten Lepcha (Bell's 'photo orderly') and his Confidential Clerk, Achuk Tsering (who would die of influenza only days after reaching Lhasa) travelled to Lhasa, arriving on 17th November 1921. Bell stayed in Lhasa for 11 months, witnessing many festivals and political disputes. His own life appears to have been in danger during the Butter Sculpture Festival, due to the 13th Dalai Lama's willingness to listen to Bell's position on taxes and developing the army, something deeply opposed by factions of the ultra conservative monastic community. This mission was to be the highlight of Bell's career and has been described as the pinacle of Anglo-Tibetan relations in the 20th century.

Object view = Humanities
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