Very rare Ming dynasty porcelain ewer with Ottoman gem-set tombak mounts
Chinese and Turkish, 16th/17th Century
Tombak: height 20cm, width 17cm, depth 10cm
Case: height 30cm, width 25cm, depth 13cm
Combining Ming dynasty porcelain from the 16th century and Ottoman tombak and gemstone mounts from the late 16th/17th, this superb piece is an object of great historical interest, and a testament to the sophistication and refinement of the Ottoman court at this time. It consists of a monochrome pear-shaped porcelain ewer with an arched strap handled and a deep-blue glaze, mounted with Turkish tombak, a brass alloy also known as red-bronze which has a low zinc content and may contain arsenic to give it a golden appearance, and colourful inlaid gemstones, including turquoise and orange chalcedony.
With a particularly striking dragonhead mount to the spout, which may be compared to works in the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul (eg. inv. no. TKS 15/2696), this fine piece is testament to the interest of the Ottoman court in Chinese wares and Chinese porcelain, and their skill in preserving and embellishing such objects. European courts often mounted and decorated Chinese pieces in a similar fashion, and this object is a beautiful early example of the Ottomans doing the same, demonstrating their high cultural refinement and cosmopolitan sophistication.