Treasures from the Forbidden City: Imperial Yellow Bowl

Posted: March 24, 2014 - 15:24 , by Chen Shen
Image of yellow bowl.
Objects on display in the exhibition The Forbidden City: Inside Court of China's Emperor at the Royal Ontario Museum, March 8 - September 1, 2014; and at Vancouver Art Gallery Oct 18, 2014 - Jan, 2015]

Imperial Yellow Bowl
萬曆款黄釉碗
Porcelain with yellow glaze
Ming dynasty, Wanli mark and period
Diameter 14.5 cm
Royal Ontario Museum 2013.43.1
 
In almost every medium and form, the colour yellow was exclusively used for the imperial family. Utensils like this bowl were for everyday use in the Forbidden City, but bowls in imperial yellow (minghuang 明黄) were restricted to the emperor, empress dowager, and empress. Imperial consorts used yellow bowls with white interiors, while the high-rank concubines used yellow bowls with green dragons.

This rare yellow-glazed monochrome bowl was designed and commissioned by the court of Emperor Wanli, and made exclusively at the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen 景德鎮. Wanli, the thirteenth emperor of the Ming dynasty, ruled the country for over 40 years (1573–1620). During his reign, Manchu people living north of the Great Wall established the Qing dynasty, which became a political and military rival of the Ming court. The Qing took over the Ming court at the Forbidden City in 1644.

The Imperial yellow bowl was the latest acquisition to the Chinese collection of the Royal Ontario Museum thanks to the Louise Stone Acquisition Fund.

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