Michael Backman Ltd - Home

Underglaze Blue Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Ceramic Kendi with Ottoman Silver Mounts with Tugra
China/Ottoman Turkey
circa 16th century

height: 16.6cm, diameter: 14cm, weight: 795g

This porcelain drinking water vessel (kendi) was made in China for the Islamic export market. This example appears to have been destined for the Ottoman
Turkey market, where high-grade, almost pure, silver mounts were added. The mount on the neck has been stamped with a
tugra, the emblem of the Ottoman
sultan which was used as a silver assay mark.

kendi itself dates to the Ming Dynasty (around the 16th century), and probably to the Wanli period (1573-1619).  Two similar porcelain kendis (without
silver mounts) are illustrated in Khoo (1991, p. 84). It is likely that the silver mounts date to a period not long after.

It comprises a globular body decorated in underglaze blue and cream with floral and gourd designs. There is a low bulbous spout with a small aperture capped
with plain silver sheet. And there is a tall neck capped entirely in silver. The
kendi sits on a low ring foot.

Kendis such as this example with a bulbous spout were not used in China; they were made entirely for export, mostly to Southeast Asia. It is believed that the
form originated in Southeast Asia but by the Ming Dynasty, the shape had been copied by artisans in China for export (Eng-Lee, 1984, p. 40).

See Ucok (2001) for examples of
kendis and other Chinese porcelain items that are now in Turkey and with Ottoman silver mounts.

kendi here is in fine condition. There are no cracks of repairs; simply wear commensurate with age.

Eng-Lee, S.C. et al, Kendis: A Guide to the Collections, National Museum of Singapore, 1984.
Folsach, K., von,
Art from the World of Islam: in the David Collection, 2001.
Greensted, M., & P. Hardie,
Chinese Ceramics: The Indian Connection, City of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, 1982.
Khoo, J.E.,
Kendi: Pouring Vessels in the University of Malaysia Collection, Oxford University Press, 1991.
Ucok, A. (ed.),
Chinese Treasures in Istanbul, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, 2001.
Zebrowski, M.,
Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press, 1997.

Provenance: UK art market

Inventory no.: 4050

This Item is available - Ask about this item
The tugra mark is clear in this image.
This porcelain kendi which does not have silver mounts, is on display
in the Islamic Arts Museum of Malaysia, and is attributed to 16th-17th
century Ming China. (Photographed February 2017.)