Introduction on Chuxiu Gong wares by Mr. Geng Baochang (耿寶昌) Chuxiu Gong (Palace), located in West Palace number six, was built in the Ming Dynasty in 1420, during the reign...
Introduction on Chuxiu Gong wares by Mr. Geng Baochang (耿寶昌)
Chuxiu Gong (Palace), located in West Palace number six, was built in the Ming Dynasty in 1420, during the reign of Emperor Yongle. In the Qing Dynasty, the palace was renovated and expanded in the twelve years of Emperor Shunzhi (1639). Chuixiu Gong was closely related to Empress Qiuxi. In the second year of Xianfeng (1852), Qiuxi entered Chuxiu Gong. There, in the sixth year of Xianfeng (1856), she gave birth to Emperor Tongzhi. For a time period, she left for Chang Chun Gong; and in the tenth year of Guangxu (1884), she moved back to Chuxiu Gong when she turned fifty.
In the reign of Xianfeng, Tongzhi or Guangxu, were these large dishes made. It would take Cixi’s rise to power into consideration. I assume, in the tenth year of Guangxu would be the most appropriate guess since Chuxiu Gong was renovated for the celebration of Cixi’s fifties’ birthday during that year
Moreover, six hundred and thirty thousand silver taels were spent on this renovation. Thus, those large dishes should have been made in the tenth year of Guangxu.
Big dishes of the Chuxiu Gong style, in general, were blue and white ground with white dragon decorations. Blue and white with green or purple glaze; white ground with yellow, green and purple glazes were also popular during that period
What were these large dishes for back in the past?
These large dishes were served as refrigerators in the past. Ice was collected from the river during winters and stored in these dishes in summers to keep fruits fresh and cool. Similar to these large dishes, ‘large basins’ and ‘ice basins’ had the same function. This was also the function of the large dishes of Emperor Xuande in the Ming Dynasty, and of Chuxiu Gong.
It was said, but not seen, that Chuxiu Gong wares were made during the reign of Emperor Kangxi, however, in the late Qing, Tongzhi and Guangxu periods would be more practical. Chuxiu Gong wares are mostly large, small wares were rare.
When Empress Cixi lived in Chuxiu Gong, wares of Chang Chun Gong and Yukun Gong were produced in the same period. These wares were reserved in the palace for imperial use. Though the qualities of Chuxiu Gong wares were not as good as those of the precedents and were without reign marks, they were of special value asthey came from royal kilns.