Tea set: Pitcher, two cups
China, Guangzhou or Hong Kong, late 19th or early 20th century
Maritime Trade gallery
- What decoration can you spot on these silver pieces?
- What would the different vessels be used for?
- Do you think tea was a popular beverage back in the day?
This "tea service", as it's called, is made up of a teapot, milk jug, and sugar bowl – everything needed to serve tea (except - what's missing?). The decoration of flowering prunus branches was "applied", attached after each container was cast into shape. Look closely to notice that each vessel has a horizontal section of moulded decoration crafted to resemble tree bark.
The set was produced in China for export to the West or to a colonial outpost in Asia. Foreign merchants lived in China and other areas of Asia, trading in porcelain, tea, silk, silver and other valuable commodities.
Plum blossoms hold special significance during Lunar New Year and symbolise perseverance and hope. At this time of year, plum blossoms are a common sight in parks and gardens around the world. In Singapore, some households may even use artificial plum blossoms as a festive decoration.
Imagine having your tea served in this lovely set during a Lunar New Year get-together!
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Walk towards the Central staircase and go up to Level 2. Exit left, and turn left into the Ancestors & Rituals gallery. Look on your right for a linkway to enter the Scholars gallery. In the Scholars gallery, turn right, then go left along the wall.