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A Kangxi Wine Ewer

Kangxi Wine Ewer, which was probably used for ritualistic or ceremonial use.

Kangxi Wine Ewer, which was probably used for ritualistic or ceremonial use.

Whilst Christian communion involves the acceptance of wine, one can't help feeling more relaxed with the Oriental concept. Chinese porcelain wine ewers, whether in their original Ming or later Kangxi form, are far more than functional objects as they were produced to pay homage to ancestors – a toast to the dead if you like.

Appeasing a deceased relative may take many forms, the offering of food, or paper money, even terracotta horses and attendants would be seen as useful on the other side. However, the greatest care seems to have been lavished on wine ewers – although wholly practical, the sinuous beauty and fine decoration suggests they were intended for the grandest of recipients.

Generals encouraged consumption of wine before battle and if a warrior fell, his brothers in arms would sprinkle wine on the ground where he lay. Certainly the transition between the Ming and later Dynasty was a turbulent time that only settled during the reign of first Qing Emperor Kangxi.

The wine ewer pictured was made during his reign of Kangxi (1662-1722) and was certainly intended more for ritualistic or ceremonial use rather than as an everyday practical object, but I am sure you will agree that is fairly obvious!


  • Kangxi (1662-1722)
  • Ceramics

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About the Author

Nic SainteyNic Saintey
Ceramics and Glass

Nic Saintey is a Director of Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood, with responsibility for marketing and advertising. He is also Head of the Ceramics and Glass Department.

Nic Saintey's first career was in the Armed Forces where he served both as a military parachutist and paramedic in Europe, North America, East Africa and the Middle East.

He joined Lawrence’s of Crewkerne in early 1995 before moving to their Taunton branch as a general valuer and saleroom manager.

Nic joined Bearne’s in June 2000 to head up the expanding ceramic department, before joining the Board in 2003. His effervescent nature and wide experience has seen him regularly appear as an expert on the BBC’s Bargain Hunt and Flog It programmes.

He undertakes regular talks and contributes articles to both Devon and Cornwall Life magazines. His interests particularly include pottery in general, but especially that produced in Donyatt and North Devon, he is a keen runner and has recently taken up motor sport at a local circuit.