Porcelain was a luxury export product of advanced Chinese chemistry and ceramics. Collected by high-status Europeans as a symbol of sophistication, rarity, and exclusivity, porcelain increased economic ties and cultural exchange between China and Europe. This bowl was made for punch, which comes from the Hindi word for the number five (पाँच). Five is the number of ingredients used in the drink: alcohol, sugar, citrus, spices, and water. Despite the term’s Hindi origin, drinking punch was a European custom enjoyed by all, from the lower class to aristocrats. The unique Masonic designs on the exterior of the punch bowl help identify that the commissioners were Freemasons, members of an exclusive Christian secret society that valued fellowship and moral discipline.
Written by Josephine Boutte ’26
From the 2023 exhibition Faith and Empire: The Legacy of Conversion and Commerce in the Early Modern World, curated by students of ARTH 20.04, "Faith and Empire: Art in the Early Modern World" taught by Elizabeth Rice Mattison, Andrew W. Mellon Associate Curator of Academic Programming
Faith and Empire: The Legacy of Conversion and Commerce in the Early Modern World, Class of 1967 Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August 12-December 23, 2023.
Frank Stetz, New York, NY; given to present collection, 2004.
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