Plate, 'Deshima' decoration
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Plate, 'Deshima' decoration. Diam 8.75', Ex: Ca Mau Shipwreck

Plate in underglaze blue and white decoration of the so called "Deshima" pattern. 

This decoration seems to appear both on contemporary Chinese and Japanese porcelain. It is widely published as being of the Deshima Island in the Nagaski harbour. Something which is totally impossibly since the Nagasaki harbour naver has looked even remotely like this. To mention just one thing - its inland was the Nagasaki city - not the wet and grassy pasture as on this picture. 

It is highly likely though that the plate is made by Dutch order and even more ikely is that a close previous pattern presented to the Japanese or Chinese might have been a Dutch tile - flies. 

For a background we need to remember that Japan was first visited by westerners in 1543 and in 1549 targeted by the Jesuit missionary Frans Xavier as the key to the Christening of the closed China. The small fishing village of Nagasaki soon grew to a city with 30 000 inhabitants thanks to the westerners activities. 

During the course of time the Japanese well founded doubts in the intents of the smelly foreigners resulted in the Dutch traders being confined to a small man made island - Deshima Island - in the Nagasaki harbor. From this the profitable trade with Japan was continued by the Dutch despite a massive distrust. 

Against this background it is understandable that the decoration of this plate have been supposed to be depicting this important trading station. Unfortunately this does not fit with the reality. 

One place in the world - also with strong Dutch connection - which DOES look like this is the city of Gothenburg on the Western coast of Sweden. Gothenburg was built as a trading station by the Dutch on much the same plan as "Batavia" or nowadays Jakarta and actually also "New Amsterdam" - today better known as New York. 

Everybody familiar with Erik Dahlbergs important Swedish prints collection Suecia Antiqua et Houdierna depicting all cities and building of importance in Sweden by the end of the 17th century, will recognize the central part of the print of the city of GOTHEBORG, published in 1709. 

Date Qing dynasty, Yongzheng period (1723-1735)

Size Diameter c. 8.75 inches / 22.5 cm

Condition: Good. The glaze is dulled by the underwater conditions of the South China Sea. Some minor glaze frits to the rim.

Literature The Ca Mau Shipwreck 1723-1735, page 108-108, fig 27, 29, 30. Howard and Ayers, China for the West, page 72, fig 33.

Provinience Ca Mau Shipwreck excavation

Condition: The glaze is dulled by the underwater conditions of the South China Sea. Minor wear to the rim. Slight discolouration


Price: $580

Shipping and handling: $45.00