Inventory no.: 740

Straits Chinese or Nonya Porcelain – Chupu / Kat Mau


Famille Rose Green-Ground Kat Mau or Chupu with Cover

Malacca, Malaysia

late 19th century

height: 14.9cm, diameter: 11.6cm

This beautiful kat mau (as these covered vases are known in Singapore, or cepu/chupu as they are known in Malacca, or himcheng as they were called in Penang) has excellent, clear provenance that dates to the 1940s, when it was acquired by an English family in Malacca.

The body and cover are decorated with bright enamels and shaped pink-ground panels with yellow borders and decorated with a phoenix in flight over delicately shaded light blue peonies, amid a green background embellished with pink and blue peonies. The top of the base and bottom of the cover have pink borders decorated with ribbons and Buddhistic/Taoist symbols. The base of the

kat mau has a border of pink, blue and green lappets. The cover is topped with a pale pink handle or pull. The edges of this, the cover and the base are finished with gilt.

The base has a relatively indistinct factory mark in red enamel which probably reads

Chen Yitai Zao.Kat mau vases are always finely potted. They had no definitive use but usually were part of the large wedding sets that the Straits Chinese commissioned from China. Possibly, they were used to serve bird’s nest soup or glutinous rice balls in syrup – delicacies that by tradition signified marital bliss and prosperity.


Acquired in the UK from an English family from the south-west of England that was involved in managing a rubber plantation near Malacca in the 1940s.


Kee, M.Y., Peranakan Porcelain: Vibrant Festive Ware of the Straits Chinese, Tuttle Publishing, 2009; Ho, W.M., Straits Chinese Porcelain: A Collector’s Guide, Times Books International, 1983.

Inventory no.: 740


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