It is not leftovers that have stayed too long in the refrigerator.
You may know (or not) I have been a collector — in a small way — of antique Chinese porcelain and Asian art. As a collector, I love flea markets and yard sales. It’s part of the collecting mystique, that one day someone will be selling a great antique piece for a few dollars and I will be there to grab it.
It happened. Twice, to be exact. One pieces I got was a small, 200-year-old Qing dynasty pitcher. In pretty good shape. Got it for five dollars, sold it for $150. Ka-ching!
The other was a little dish which I’ve kept. It’s decorated with blue and yellow chickens. It’s a rice bowl, the sort of thing a working man might carry to work and use to eat his lunch. The piece fits loosely into the category of famille rose. Or famille verte. I haven’t decided if rose or green is the dominant color.
They are both a style rather than a dynasty, though the vast majority of piece in this category are between one and two hundred years old. Most of these pieces are elaborately decorated, but simple pieces were made for regular folks.
Chinese porcelain was secular. Art for art’s sake. Decorative. Non-collectors may assume Chinese porcelain was lavish. What I would call “imperial porcelain.” Certainly some very fine porcelain was made for the wealthiest members of society, but much of it was not. The Chinese were very egalitarian, believing that everyone needed art, the same way everyone needs food.
Food feeds the body. Art feeds the soul.
Art — dishes, figures, vases, ginger jars and so much more — was made for peasants, servants. Middle, and upper classes. Beauty was not a privilege of the few, but part of life for everyone.
The concept of art for everybody delights me. Too many people think art is a waste of money because it has no “function.” Merely being beautiful isn’t enough for them.
In this bowl indeed has a function, but it wasn’t painted to make it more functional. It would hold a man’s rice without hand-painted chickens. But me? I prefer it with chickens. In fact, I just love those chickens!