"Understatement Was Never A Characteristic Of Nyonya Porcelains!"
A tall and rather elegant, late 19th century, Qing dynasty, Chinese, baluster shaped, boldly coloured Nyonya Peranakan 娘惹 antique lamp of outstanding quality. Made for the Straits Chinese communities of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore, Malacca and Penang.
The Nyonya, also spelled "Nonya", Chinese communities commissioned their uniquely decorated porcelains from China. The kilns decorating these Nyonya export porcelains to order, strictly adhering to the specific enamel colour requirements of the Straits Chinese.
Green was one of the most favoured of the Nyonya colours and this lamp base is enamelled with a ground of blue green, one of the six shades of green used. The ground painted with branches of shaded, rose pink Peony flowers, buds and foliage. The blue green ground with two yellow framed ogival shaped reserves enamelled with a distinctive bright rose pink. The reserved ground enamelled in bright colours with a Phoenix in flight, hovering above branches of shaded Peony flowers. The Phoenix decoration repeated on the reverse side of the lamp. The lamp sides brightly painted with large, rose pink shaded Peony flowers.
Chinese art is highly symbolic and what could simply be seen as decorative, is rarely so. The Peony and the Phoenix are two such artistic symbols. The Peony flower is one of the four flower emblems, signifying summer, love and affection. It also indicates a hope for greater advancement and is also a synonym for nobility and gracefulness.
The Phoenix or "Feng Huang" in Chinese, is a very ancient emblem signifying goodness and benevolence. It was used to symbolise Imperial power, specifically the female aspect, not only signifying the Empress of China but on her wedding day, the bride. The Phoenix is also a symbol of high achievement as this bird can fly the closest to heaven therefore making it a divine and auspicious symbol.
The neck of the lamp with applied Buddhist lions. The shoulder of the lamp with moulded and applied pairs of hornless dragons in pink enamels. The underside of the top rim, decorated with a band of ruyi scepter heads or wish granting motif in pink and yellow. The base of the lamp enamelled with a border of stylised lotus petals in the form of coral pink and yellow lappets. The lamp standing in a gold plated ring and seated in a fine quality antique Chinese stand. The lamp with a custom made, bronze, gold plated lamp cap. The lamp shown with a choice of aqua marine and rose pink, silk shade suggestions.
Nyonya porcelain is entirely different, with no reference to any other class of Chinese porcelain produced. It is distinguished by a relatively small range of robust colours and a preference for a predominant decoration usually incorporating the phoenix, peony and a range of auspicious symbols .
To clearly see this Nyonya delight in bold colour, see the detailed photo for the colour selection chosen in the decoration of the typical Nyonya house.
Straits Chinese Porcelain, A Collectors Guide.
Author, Ho Wing Meng, Published, Marshall Cavendish International Pty Ltd. Singapore 2004.
Peranakan Chinese Porcelain
Author, Kee Ming- Yuet. Published, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore 2009.
Ho. W.M.,Straits Chinese Porcelain: A Collector’s Guide, Times Books International, 1983.
Guangzhou Emperor - Circa 1890-1900
Overall height (including shade) 24"/61 cm approx
Lamps shipped to the US and UK are wired to US and UK specifications