The Powerhouse Museum holds extensive Chinese collections of ceramics, bronze ware, lacquer ware carvings in jade and ivory, textiles, dress and dress accessories.
One special ceramic example is a beautiful and lustrous, figure of Guanyin-the Goddess of Mercy Standing on a Wave, a very popular deity with the Chinese. She is also known as Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. Her smooth and sinuous form exemplifies Dehua porcelain (known as blanc-de-chine in the West) and was made around the early 1600s (Ming Dynasty) in Fujian Province, perhaps often regarded as the peak of Dehua production.
The artist is He Chaozong. A named artist is quite unusual in Chinese ceramics and it can be noted that Dehua was one of few production centres where artists signed their names. Many of these pieces were exported, particularly porcelain figures of Buddhist deities.
The Powerhouse’s early Southeast Asian ceramic collection has been acquired from the Sydney International Exhibition (1879) and notable collector, Alistair Morrison, who spent many years living in Asia. It includes earthenware pots and jars collected from Cambodia (Khmer), notably an incised, glazed storage jar from the 12th century as well as ceramic works from Sawankhalok, Thailand, ranging from the 14th to 15th centuries. Such sturdy vessels speak of simplicity of form and function while deep brownish -black underglaze glossy glazes underline their beauty.