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The gallery will be closed Monday, 5/27 for Memorial Day
The gallery will be closed Monday, 5/27 for Memorial Day

Gorham Mfg. Co. Silver Hizen Soup Ladle

This Hizen pattern soup ladle by Gorham Mfg. Co. depicts the Chinese Goddess Xiwangmu, Queen Mother of the West, Wife of the Jade Emperor, holding a bowl of three peaches. One of the most ancient and powerful goddesses in the Chinese pantheon, she tends to the Peaches of Immortality in the Heavenly palace gardens. Although the Queen mother was Japanese in origin, Chinese mythological subjects were popular motifs in 17th-18th century Japan. Accordingly, the two figures are dressed in Japanese costume. An attendant kowtows to the Queen mother, his hands in a fist and palm salute. The salute dates back to the West Zhou Dynasty (BC 1046-BC 771) and was used to greet one’s peers. The attendant wears a straw hat (kasa) around his belt (obi) identifying him as a member of the farmer class. The scene is surrounded by unmon (cloud pattern) identifying the scene as heavenly in nature. Below the figure is a crown daisy, a member of the chrysanthemum family. Also known as the emperor vegetable in Chinese culture, the plant is a common part of Chinese cuisine. Accordingly, the crown daisy sits above a dragon, a symbol of the Chinese emperor. The hemisphere of the ladle depicts a water lily with three leaves and two blossoms. The water lily, beloved by Nineteenth-century western artists, was a symbol of early summer in Japanese culture. The underside of the ladle depicts a rosebud and a small crab. Crabs were often depicted with Lotus in Japanese art and were said to be the reincarnation of samurai who died in naval battles.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: SI-20543
Artist: Gorham Mfg. Co.
Country: United States
Circa: 1880
Dimensions: 11.5" height, 4.1875" width, 3.625" depth
Materials: Silver, Gold Plate
Signed: Stamped marks chased water lily bowl; engraved N monogram to underside of terminal

The Queen mother was known as Seiobo in Japan, and was depicted wearing the Gosho-mage, or “palace chignon.” Worn around the Kanbun period (1661–73), the Gosho-mage was based on historical Tang dynasty hairstyles (AD 618-907), a golden age of Sino-Japanese Scholarly exchange.