Pearlware sugar bowl, Portland, ca. 1830

Description

Reconstructed from 14 shards found in an archaeological dig at 47 Brown Street in Portland in 2008, this pearlware bowl and lid have an underglaze hand-painted blue decoration of a floral Chinese motif. It might have been used as a sugar bowl.

In the 1600s, European importers sourced sugar from Asia and the Middle East. Because it was a rare and new commodity, there was no material culture associated with sugar. As a result, artists patterned the first sugar containers on Chinese covered rice bowls to hold and protect the sugar.

Pearlware, imported from England in large quantities between 1780 and 1860, was quite popular in the United States.


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