This spittoon with lobed rim is decorated with enamels in the famille-rose palette (pink, green, blue, yellow, and aubergine). The interior of the rim is painted with colourful scrolling foliage, bordered by a pattern of scrolling vines painted in gold. The underside of the rim features pink floral sprays and flowering peonies decorate the body; all against a white ground. It would have been used as a spitting receptacle, probably after smoking tobacco or taking snuff. The enamel decoration has been painted onto a copper body, a technique introduced to China from Europe in the last quarter of the 17th century. Many such pieces were produced in Canton (Guangzhou) and they are often referred to as “Canton enamels”. They were made for domestic use but were also exported in large numbers, often with designs intended to appeal to Europeans, demonstrating the willingness of artisans in China to respond to foreign tastes.

18th century
Guangzhou, China
Object size: 12 x 11 x 8 cm
Accession No.
copper (metal)
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Credit Line
Gift of Amir and Soha Mohtashemi

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