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Conical Bowl with the Three Friends of Winter
Conical Bowl with the Three Friends of Winter, Early 15th century
Porcelain with underglaze blue decoration (Jingdezhen ware)
3 5/16 x 8 11/16 x 8 3/4 inches (8.4 x 22 x 22.2 cm)
Purchased with the Henry B. Keep Fund, the Joseph E. Temple Fund, the Bloomfield Moore Fund, the John T. Morris Fund, and with funds contributed by Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg, The Beneficia Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. J. Welles Henderson, Mrs. Howard H. Lewis, Mrs. William F. Machold, Mrs. Donald Petrie, Meyer P. Potamkin, Hugh Scott, and Mrs. William L. Van Alen, 1984
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Looking Questions

  • What makes this bowl feel so delicate?
  • Can you find round bundles of pine needles blooming off crooked branches?
  • Can you find spiky bamboo leaves clustered near the bottom?
  • There is a branch of plum blossoms between the pine needles and the bamboo leaves. Can you find it?
  • Why were these three plants chosen to decorate this bowl?

Art Activity: Blue-and-White Painting

The Chinese highly prized the deep blue color that was achieved by painting with the mineral pigment cobalt on a pure white surface. To achieve varying effects of shading, artists used more or less water in relation to the powdered blue pigment in the paint. Set up a still-life arrangement in your classroom, and have students paint it using blue watercolor. Experiment with water to make dark and light shades of blue. Use different sizes of brushes to express the textures. Hang these works in your classroom.


Research Project: Drinking Vessels from Around the World

This Chinese bowl was made and used for drinking wine. Have students research drinking vessels from a variety of cultures, such as Japanese tea ceremony bowls, German beer steins, ancient Greek kylix, English teacups, African palm-wine cups, American Coca-Cola bottles, and French espresso cups. How is the shape of each vessel appropriate to its use? What sort of decoration has been added? Have each student choose one vessel to describe and illustrate, and to explain the social situation in which it is or was used.

Group Activity: Friends of Seasons

Nature is often symbolic in Chinese art. This bowl's design of pine, plum, and bamboo branches represents the Three Friends of Winter. Divide your class into four groups and assign each a season. Have each group research seasonal flowers and animals in books, in magazines, or on the Internet, selecting three to represent their season. On a large piece of paper, have each group illustrate their season using the three forms from nature and then write a poem or paragraph that tells the symbolic meaning of each. Display works in the classroom.

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