Large Straits Chinese Lidded KamchengChina for the Straits Market
22cm, diameter: 21.3cm
This well-made, large, covered jar or kamcheng (kamcheng means ‘covered vessel’ or ‘covered teacup’ in Hokkien) was made in China to Straits Chinese (baba/nonya or peranakan) tastes.
It is elaborately decorated in a variety of colourful polychrome with a predominantly green ground. The sides are decorated with two main panels each with a phoenix between a blue and a rose-pink peony bloom. Sprays of peony blooms decorate the areas between the cartouches.
Two pairs of lugs with twisted metal handles are applied to either side of the jar.
The cover is decorated with two panels each containing a phoenix and blooms, with more peony sprays between these cartouches. The rim has a band in pink with Buddhistic emblems. The cover has a crouching lion-dog finial in green which arises from a yellow ground.
The base has the Wangshengshu Zao (Wang-shen Shu) factory mark, a mark mentioned in Ho (1983) and Kee (2009).
The precise purpose of
kamchengs is unclear. No doubt they were used for some sort of food storage and most probably the precise usage varied from family to family. It is unlikely that they were used as soup tureens because unlike more newly arrived Chinese to the Straits settlements of Singapore, Malacca and Penang, the Straits Chinese did not routinely serve soup with their meals. Kamchengs were however usually commissioned as part of the wedding services ordered from China.
kamcheng here is in excellent condition. There are no repairs, chips or cracks. The edge of the lid has a gold highlight; there is the usual rubbing to this, but unusually, it is largely intact.
Ho, W.M., Straits Chinese Porcelain: A Collector’s Guide, Times Books International, 1983.
Straits Chinese Porcelain, Kee Ming Yuet Sdn Bhd, 2004.
Peranakan Chinese Porcelain: Vibrant Festive Ware of the Straits Chinese, Tuttle Publishing, 2009.
The Southeast Asian Ceramics Society – West Malaysia Chapter,
Nonya Ware and Kitchen Ch’ing, Oxford University Press, 1981.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 4038