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Large Terracotta Vase with Rare Crab & Seaweed Designs & Cream Glaze

circa 15th century

height: 21.5cm, diameter: 23cm



private collection, UK

This tall, impressive vase or jar is decorated in under-glaze cobalt with three crabs with claws aloft separated by seaweed and other watery motifs. It is of baluster form with a wide, rounded shoulder, and a small neck with a raised, upright rim. The shoulder is decorated with four applied floral motifs.

Sea creatures are an occasional motif on Vietnamese ceramics from the period. The most usual motifs are prawns or shrimps. Crabs are occasionally encountered (for example, see Stevenson & Guy, 1997, p. 367 for a ceramic inkstone and a covered box each shaped as a crab) but this is the only vase or jar of this type so extensively decorated with crabs that we have seen.

The vase is in fine condition. It is without repairs or cracks, There are minor losses to the glaze here and there and there is minor loss to the extremities of two of the four raised flower motifs about the shoulder.


Miksic,. J., (ed.), Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery, Southeast Asian Ceramics Society/NUS Museum, 2009.

Stevenson, J. & J. Guy, Vietnamese Ceramics: A Separate Tradition, Art Media Resources, 1997.

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