Generally speaking, the metal, stone, wood, and ceramic bowls made throughout Asia over the last several hundred years are simpler in shape and decoration than vases of the same period. That's because bowls are more purely functional than vases, meant to hold foods such as noodles or soup, designed primarily to be used rather than admired. Which is not to say their forms cannot be beautiful, as anyone who has eaten out of a steep-sided, bullet-shaped bowl or a wide, footed saucer knows.

Ceramic bowls range from porcelain to red clay. Glazing treatments include intricately decorative and pictorial compositions featuring dragons, lions, flowers, fruits, and gourds. Others are virtuoso exercises in color, be it a classic celadon container, a copper-red orb accented by a white lip wrap, or a flambe treatment, in which the glaze seems to be ignited from below.

One pattern that became particularly popular in China and was made exclusively for export in the 1850s is still known as rose medallion. It’s characterized by a gold circle enclosing a bird and flower in the inside-center of the bowl, surrounded by scenic panels set within floral borders. Other versions of this motif include, rose mandarin, rose canton, cabbage, and bird and butterfly.

In Japan, blue-and-white Imari porcelain bowls, some lidded, some not, were produced alongside red, gold, and blue examples. While most of these bowls were meant to hold food, wider examples with half-circle notches carved into their rims were used by barbers, who would rest the bowls against the necks of their customers to catch the hair they were trimming. Satsuma bowls made for export to the West in the 19th century included square bowls with tapering sides, decorated inside and out. And for hundreds of years, hand-formed raku ware has been the ceramic of choice for tea bowls, which are differentiated from tea cups for their lack of handles.

In Tibet, bowls can serve another purpose. Tibetan singing bowls are technically bells thought to bring healing through their tones and vibrations. Used in Buddhist meditation, antique singing bowls are made of a bronze alloy that includes copper, tin, nickel, silver, gold, and zinc. A good singing bowl makes several tones at once, which careful listeners can discern.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

Gotheborg.com

Gotheborg.com

Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

An Important Large 18th Century Qianlong Mark Period Chinese Famille Rose Bowl&cV.rare 12thc Chinese Song Dynasty Splash Tortoise-glazed BowlVery Fine Rare 12c Chinese Song Dynasty Jun Junyao Pale Moon Blue Glazed Bowl Extremely Rare 12thc Chinese Song Dynasty Russet Feather Glazed Conical BowlVery Rare 17thc Chinese Kangxi Mark Period Imperial Yellow Enamel Dragon BowlAmazing 19thc Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi Imperial Yellow Dragon Punch BowlLarge Chinese Qianlong Famille Rose Coral Enamel Imperial Precious Punch BowlSuperb 12thc Chinese Northern Song Dynasty Jun Sky Blue Glazed BowlImportant Chinese Xuande Anhua White Glazed Egg Shell Porcelain Dragon BowlAuth. 12thc Chinese Song Dynasty Qingbai Glazed Carved Lotus Petal Dish BowlLarge 18thc Chinese Qianlong Famille Rose Figure Riding Cart Scenic Punch BowlExquisite Quality Antique Repousse Chased Islamic Persian Silver BowlFine 19thc Chinese Carved Chalcedony Agate Bird Figural Scholars Water Pot BowlAuth. Signed Chinese Ming Dynasty Bronze Tripod Censer BowlFine 18thc Chinese Qianlong Blue White Cafe Au Lait Nanking Cargo BowlLovely Antique Red & Green Over & Blue Under Glaze Bowl Ming China C1600-1700Estatelot Chinese Song Ming Dynasty Celadon Straw Glazed Jar Box Bowl Vase StickAn Important Kang Xi Period Chinese Copper Red And Blue Decorated Fish BowlVery Fine Signed Chinese Famille Rose Turquoise Enamel Serving Dish Bowl Ultra Fine Antique Signed Persian Isfahan Islamic Solid Silver Sugar BowlVery Fine Chinese Qing Dynasty Famille Verte Imperial Figures Porcelain BowlFinec1890 Chinese Guangxu Mark Period Iron Red Imperial Dragon Lidded Bowl StandSuperb 19thc Chinese Signed Tongzhi Famille Rose Imperial Precious Objects BowlVery Fine Antique Chinese Bronze Archaic Dragon Censer Bowl Ming Qing DynastyRare Fine Islamic Bowl Silver Brass Inlay Indo Persian Indian Mughal Lota 1800'sSuperb 18/19thc Antique Chinese Qing Famille Rose Canton Enamel Bowl Or JarRare Daoguang Fine Hand Painted Canton Enamel Porcelain Bowl China C1821 -502nd/ Superb Quality Antique Repousse Chased Islamic Persian Pierced Silver BowlFine Rare Signed Chinese Qing Dynasty Carved Gold Gilt Bronze Dragon Censer BowlSuperb 17/18thc Chinese Blanc De Chine Dehua White Porcelain Lotus Bowl DishIndian Silver Bowl Village Elephant Feet Calcutta Fine Authentic 12thc Chinese Song Dynasty High Fired Black Hares Fur Glazed Bowl G695: Chinese Old Blue Porcelain Ware Bowl With Appropriate Tone And Work Antique Chinese Porcelain Hexagon Bowl Famille Rose Butterly Crow Peach TongzhiGreat Antique Chinese Famille Rose Porcelain Bowl Emperor Xuantong Reign MarkedImpressive Genuine Islamic Persian Safavid Tinned Copper Wine Bowl 17th Century Chinese Export Silver Salt Bowl Luen Wo Iris Prunus Bamboo Japanese Juzan-gama Kutani Hand Painted & Potted Blue & White Bowl Arita JapanG754: Japanese Old Shino Ware Tasteful Nodate Tea Bowl With Appropriate Work.Large Antique Qing Period Chinese Blue White Porcelain Jardiniere Fish BowlJapanese Satsuma Pottery Bowl C1900 Meiji PeriodAntique Chinese Enameled Porcelain Famille Rose Footed BowlEstate Lot Chinese Song Ming Dynasty Black Russet Cizhou Glazed Jars Vases BowlTb3: Japanese Tea Bowl Of Mumyoi Ware By National Human Treasure, Sekisui ItoAntique Green & Yellow Chinese Porcelain Foo Dog Small Finger Bowl Dish PlateFine Quality Qianlong Chinese Export Hen Famille Rose Enamel Tea Bowl AntiqueExtremely Rare Very Large Old Chinese Cloisonne Bowl - Signed / Character MarksFine 19thc Chinese Purplish Red Flambe Glazed Scholars Water Pot Bowl W StandSuperb Fine Large 12" 19th C Chinese Porcelain Phoenix Jardinere / Fish BowlLarge Antique Chinese Cloisonne Planter Large Cloisonne Bowl With BatV.rare 12thc Chinese Song Dynasty Celadon Glazed Twin Fish Carved Bowl DishVery Fine 12thc Chinese Song Dynasty Dingyao White Glazed Straight Rimmed BowlChinese Ming Period BowlSuperb Kangxi 1662 - 1722 Chinese Porcelain Dragons, Carp And Pearl Flared BowlFine 19th Century Antique Chinese Famille Rose Porcelain Tea BowlAntique Chinese 18thc Blue & White Porcelain Tea Bowl & Saucer - Deer PatternAntique 19thc Indian Burmese Solid Silver Hand Crafted Bowl C. 1850Very Beautiful Deep Chinese Porcelain B/w Bowl With Landscape,figures YongzhengStunning Quality Repousse Antique Indian Islamic Silver Bowl133gBeautiful Chinese Blue & White Bowl - Dragon Designs - 6 Character Mark - L@@k