Rice Pattern China or Rice Grain Porcelain

Rice Pattern China Porcelain Plate with Dragon Motif in Cobalt Blue

Rice Pattern China Porcelain Plate with Dragon Motif in Cobalt Blue

Years ago, we bought a bunch of these plates and bowls at the China Pavilion at Epcot Center, Disney World.

Epcot Center Chinese Pavillion Courtyard Photo by Eric Marshall

Epcot Center Chinese Pavillion Courtyard
Photo by Eric Marshall

There is a courtyard and all these shops selling Chinese merchandise, some of it really inexpensive!

Epcot Center Chinese Pavillion Shop Photo by Élie Dion

Epcot Center Chinese Pavillion Shop
Photo by Élie Dion

If you like Blue and White, stop by. They have lots of things.

The glaze creates little windows where the porcelain is pierced

The glaze creates little windows where the porcelain is pierced

Pierced Rice Eyes

It’s called Rice Pattern China or Rice Grain Porcelain and it really does resemble a grain of rice. It is made in Jingdezhen, so it is also called Jingdezhen Porcelain, but not all Jingdezhen Porcelain has the rice pattern.

They are sometimes called “rice eyes”.

Rice Grain Porcelain Platter with Dragon Motif

Rice Grain Porcelain Platter with Dragon Motif

I don’t remember who told me that the pattern was made by putting rice into the clay that burned up when it was fired, but that is not true.

Jingdezhen artisan hand piercing the china before it is fired

Jingdezhen artisan hand piercing the china before it is fired

The pattern is made by piercing the mostly dried porcelain clay bowl before it is fired the first time. See the short video

Machine that pierces Rice Pattern China

Machine that pierces Rice Pattern China

This machine pierces all of the holes into a bowl at the same time.

Rice Pattern China Porcelain Bowl with painted decoration in cobalt and other colors

Rice Pattern China Porcelain Bowl with painted decoration in cobalt and other colors

Adding the Color

After it is fired, a pattern is stamped, stenciled or transferred on. Usually in cobalt, but there are other colors, too.

Rice Pattern China with Cobalt Blue Chrysanthemum Flower and Transfer Border

Rice Pattern China with Cobalt Blue Chrysanthemum Flower and Transfer Border

The center of a bowl is called the cavetto. This slightly curved part has different pictures. Mine had a dragon or a flower.

Often the picture is something that is meant to represent longevity. Pine trees, cranes, spotted deer, special stones, peaches, and tortoises all meant blessings. Sometimes they are placed into a group, a picture, like a crane with a lotus or a deer with pine trees.

This bowl has a cobalt chrysanthemum.

Rice Pattern China with Blue Flower and Transfer Border

Different flowers are supposed to mean different things.

Plum blossom
As the first flower to bloom each year, the plum blossom stands for renewal and emblematic of perseverance and purity. Its appearance while the weather is still cold makes it the flower of winter while spring belongs to the peony, summer to the lotus and autumn to the chrysanthemum. The five petals of the plum blossom are auspicious since the number five is sacred in China.

Chrysanthemum
The chrysanthemum is a symbol of autumn and the flower of the ninth moon. It is a symbol of longevity because of its health-giving properties. During the Han dynasty (206 BC- AD 220), people drank chrysanthemum wine on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month in order to prolong their lives. Nowadays, the Chinese continue to drink chrysanthemum petal tea for its health giving qualities.

Lotus
The lotus is the flower of the sixth month and summer. It is a symbol of purity because it rises out of the mud to bloom. Lotus blossoms are often depicted as a throne for the Buddha, and the lotus is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism.

Peony
Known as the ‘king of the flowers’, the peony is a symbol of royalty and virtue. It is also called the ‘flower of wealth and honour’ (fuguihua) and is widely used to represent wealth and honor.

China Journey to the East
British Museum
National/Regional Museum Education Programme

Rice Pattern China with Blue Flower and Transfer Border

Rice Pattern China with Shou symbol circle

In the center of this bowl is the character for longevity, a Shou character. The four squiggly things on the outside are meant to be bats. The word bat, fu, sounds a lot like the word for prosperity and good fortune.

Rice Pattern China with Dragon and Transfer Border

Rice Pattern China with Dragon and Transfer Border

This bowl has a more detailed dragon than the ones I had.

The Chinese dragon is the ultimate symbol of the cosmic energy qi and the most powerful symbol of good fortune. Ranked first among mythical beasts, it can bring rain to parched lands, which in turn represents abundance and relief. A dragon and phoenix (king of all winged creatures) symbolise the emperor and empress as well as marital bliss. The dragon is often used as an emblem of high rank and power on the robes of emperors and princes as well as on imperial art objects.

China Journey to the East
British Museum
National/Regional Museum Education Programme

If you are trying to identify a piece, try watersilkdragon: Chinese Ceramics in the 20th Century – Deconstructing the ‘Rice Grain’ Pattern on Chinese Porcelain – Late Qing to PRC. There are a lot of details there on the different variations in the marks on the bottom, the motif and border in the cavetto, the borders on the inside and outside of the rim, the pattern and spacing of the “rice eyes” and any other marks.

Rice Pattern China with Landscape similar to Blue Willow China

Rice Pattern China with Landscape similar to Blue Willow China

Blue Willow Rice Pattern China

Some rice pattern dishes have landscapes, with the pagoda, willow tree, boat, bridge, fence and other elements of Blue willow china.

Rice Pattern China with Landscape similar to Blue Willow China

Rice Pattern China with Landscape similar to Blue Willow China

They are very different from each other. Notice the bats that look kinda like mustaches on the outside rim?

Rice Pattern China with Landscape similar to Blue Willow China

Rice Pattern China with Landscape similar to Blue Willow China

This one has a lot of the elements, the pagoda, bridge. It’s a different day, though. Just one person on the bridge and no one is being chased. And five birds instead of two.

Rice Pattern China with Landscape similar to Blue Willow China

Rice Pattern China with Landscape similar to Blue Willow China

This one has a whole flock of birds.

Rice Pattern China Porcelain cup with painted decoration in cobalt and other colors

Rice Pattern China Porcelain cup with painted decoration in cobalt and other colors

Turning the Holes into Windows

After the pattern is applied, the bowl, or whatever piece it is, gets dipped over and over into clear glaze to create a little glass window over each pierced hole.

Here is a video of how they are made.

Did you see the man piercing the porcelain? It’s about 30 seconds in.

Machine that pierces Rice Pattern China

Machine that pierces Rice Pattern China

This is the machine. He puts the piece onto it and pushes down.

Machine that pierces Rice Pattern China

Machine that pierces Rice Pattern China

It pierces all the holes at one time, perfectly aligned.

Here is another video of them making rice pattern china.

The video is short, but shows how the bowls are made and pierced and how the patterns are applied.

Jingdezhen artisans have made rice pattern porcelain for hundreds of years. Some pieces are valuable, but modern ones are quite inexpensive.

Tea Set with Pierced Pattern

Tea Set with Pierced Pattern

Other patterns are pierced into porcelain, too.

Rice Pattern China Soup Set

Rice Pattern China Soup Set

When I went to Epcot Center, I bought six of the little bowls. They are ideal to eat rice with chopsticks. The steep sides prevent the food from running away from you.

Chinese Porcelain Spoons

I also bought one of the porcelain spoons. Friends saw it and bought me more and eventually I had quite a spoon collection.

What can you do with the spoons? You really can eat with them, but they are big to put in your mouth. You can serve with them, but they are a little small as a ladle. A woman from Szechuan showed me how she uses them. Rather than poking into her mouth, she picked up the large bits in the soup along with broth and ate it from the spoon. Kinda like using a dipper to drink water. She made it look easy, but it was really awkward for me.

Chinese Spoon Chandelier

Chinese Spoon Chandelier

I saw this cool chandelier made with the porcelain soup spoons instead of crystals.

Chinese Spoon Chandelier

Chinese Spoon Chandelier

Really so cool! Look at all the different patterns! I think I had this many spoons by the time their statute of limitations was up and I could pass them on. (You have to wait to get rid of a gift.)

Color Me Thrifty Chinese Spoon Flower

Color Me Thrifty Chinese Spoon Flower

Tuula McPhee came up with something else to do with them. She created this great Asian Ceramic Soup Spoon Flower.

Color Me Thrifty Chinese Spoon Flower

Color Me Thrifty Chinese Spoon Flower

She tells how she made it on her blog Color Me Thrifty: Asian Ceramic Soup Spoon Flower

I gave all of mine away when I moved.

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