Birdcage vaseOn display
Contact us about this object
About twenty of these bizarre ‘birdcage’ vases are known. Twelve are in Dresden, in the collection formed in the early 1700s by Augustus the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. It is possible that they were made in Arita especially for him.
The vase was decorated in blue under a transparent glaze, but the central portion was left blank, then painted later with gold lacquer. A wire and lacquer cage was added, containing porcelain pheasants with wire legs standing on rocks made of lacquered wood. The flowers sprouting from the rocks are made of porcelain and the plant stems of wire wrapped in textile.
Associated peopleprobably Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland (ruled 1694 - 1733) (commissioner)
Dateearly 18th century
Edo Period (1600 - 1868)
Material and technique
porcelain vase, with papier mâché, underglaze painting in blue, and overglaze lacquer decoration in gold; modelled porcelain pheasants, enamelled, and with wire legs; modelled porcelain flowers, with lacquered textile, and wire stems; models mounted
Dimensions53 cm (height)
38 cm (diameter)
No. of items
Purchased with the assistance of the Story Fund, 1992.
Museum locationSecond floor | Gallery 37 | Japan 1600 - 1850
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Glossary of terms
Vitreous coating applied to the surface of a ceramic to make it impermeable or for decorative effect.
Chinese and Japanese lacquer is made from the sap of the lacquer tree, which is indigenous to Eastern China. It is applied to wood as a varnish or for decorative effect. In India and the Middle East, lacquer is made from the deposit of the lac insect.
Ceramic material composed of kaolin, quartz, and feldspar which is fired to a temperature of c.1350-1400⁰c. The resulting ceramic is vitreous, translucent, and white in colour.
Painting applied to ceramic material before a transparent, or monochrome or coloured glaze for Islamic objects, is applied. The technique was initially developed in China.
Impey, Oliver, Japanese Export Porcelain: Catalogue of the Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing, 2002), no. 152 on pp. 120-121, pp. 11, 119, 121, & 208, illus. p. 120