A pair of Chinese purple-glazed bowls, late Ming/early Qing, mid 17th Century.

The bowls are modelled in the form of a lotus leaf, with incised veining both inside and out and with three rudimentary feet, 10.2cm.

A hole in the base of each bowl bears signs of turquoise glaze, evidence that they were once associated with a pair of small turquoise-glazed figures which sat inside them. 

When removed from the bowls, at some point, to create Tantalus cups, the figures retained traces of purple glaze at the base, though unfortunately only one of these remains at Burghley today, (CER0507).

The 1690 Devonshire Schedule, an inventory itemising a huge bequest from Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire (1619-1689), to her daughter Anne, Countess of Exeter (1649-1703), records: ‘A pair of purple Cups scollupt with three ffeet each and holes in the bottomes,’

So the figures had been removed from the bowls and mounted on silver-gilt triangular bases before they came to Burghley in 1690.


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