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Guan jar

The Mongol Yuan dynasty ruled China from 1279 to 1368. During this period the manufacture of porcelain developed into a major industry at Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, in South Central China. The most significant and influential development between the 1320s and 1350s was the increasing use of underglaze cobalt-blue decoration.  The cobalt used at Jingdezhen was imported from Iran, and after preparation was painted directly on to the moulded or thrown body. After glazing the ware was fired at about 1280°C to 1300°C. The finished porcelain was eye-catchingly beautiful, with complex designs in gradations of blue contrasting with the body. The splendour of Yuan blue and white porcelain is accentuated by the substantial size of many of the dishes, meiping vases and bulbous wines jars known as guan. This example is decorated with a pair of mandarin ducks, symbolic of happy marriage, swimming between lotus and other aquatic plants. Other popular motifs included scrolling foliage and flowers, especially lotus or peony, mythical animals, fish and auspicious symbols.