An unusual Chinese turquoise glazed cat nightlight. Kangxi

Decorated in a bright, turquoise-tone glaze, an opening at the back in the form of a peach, the eyes and the ears pierced.

Period :
Kangxi (1662-1722)
Porcelain (biscuit)
5.51 in. (diam : 14 cm)
Reference :

Related works

An identical cat was illustrated by the Chinese Porcelain Company, NYC, 2002, p. 39, no. 18.

A famille verte example was published by Cohen & Cohen. Cats of different glazes are in the Anthony de Rothschild Collection, the Eumorfopoulos Collection and a blue and white example, from the Hatcher Cargo (1660), is in the collections of the British Museum.


This model of crouching figure was in several colors : enameled in famille verte enamels, in aubergine, or blue and white. It would have functioned as a nightlight. The presence of several monochrome examples in French inventories indicated that they preferred the luminous quality of the single (turquoise) glaze particularly when mounted in ormolu.

In Paris auction catalogue of 1783, Catalogue des Tableaux … Du Cabinet de M. Blondel, we find a description of two blue cats mounted in ormolu and four others cats (Deux Chats accroupis aussi fond bleu uni, sur pied contourné, a feuilles d’ornements … Autre petits chats bleu celest, fond uni …).

Blanc-de-Chine figure of cats were also made at the Dehua Kilns in the 18th century.

Because their superior eyesight, cats in China were considered useful signs to ward-off evil spirits as well as mice. European iconography of the period also featured frequent feline imagery portraying the animal as both playful and mischievous. Pere d’Entrecolles, the Jesuis priest working in Beijing, writes in 1712 that these objects are used with small candles inside them to scare away rats and mice – and probably demons. They may also have been used as covers for incense pastilles.

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