Antique Chinese and Japanese Porcelain collector's help and info page


Ceramic shapes


The various parts of a bowl can be described as follows, starting from the top and moving down towards the bottom:


A small eating utensil, may be flat or shallow with a wide, flat bottom and often with sloping sides, and are typically used for side dishes, salads, or desserts.


An ewer is a type of pitcher or jug that is designed for holding and pouring liquids, such as water, wine, or milk. It typically has a narrow neck, a wide body, and a handle for holding and pouring.


A jar is a container with a wide mouth and a lid. Jars come in various sizes and shapes, and some are specifically designed for certain purposes. Jars are commonly used for storing food items such as tea, coffee, tobacco, ginger and pickles and other preserves. They can also be used for storing non-food items such as medicine, spices, beads, and other small items. Typically a jar needs to have a lid to serve its primary purpose of storing. Jars, such as decorative jars or those used for display purposes, may not need a lid.


A kendi or kundika is a traditional water vessel or ewer used in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia. It is typically made of clay or brass and has a bulbous shape with a small spout but no handle. When pouring it is held around its neck. The kendi is used to serve and pour water during traditional ceremonies or for daily use. In some cultures, the kendi is also used to pour holy water during religious ceremonies, such as in Hindu or Buddhist rituals. The kendi has a long history and cultural significance in Southeast Asia, and is often considered a symbol of hospitality and friendship.


A flat and circular eating utensil with a flared lip and a shallow draft, crafted from any non or low absorbent material. The material can be ceramic, organic or metallic as in pottery, porcelain, glass, wood, tin, pewter, silver etc. It is typically larger, flat, and used for serving main courses


A food carrier made up of several similar containers that could be stacked on top of each other. It is called a tiffin carrier, tiffin box, or simply tiffin. It is typically made of metal, and consists of several stacking compartments that can be used to carry different dishes and snacks. Tiffins are commonly used in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of South Asia for carrying home-cooked meals to work or school, as well as for picnics or long journeys. The stacking design of the tiffin carrier allows for easy transportation and storage. It is still in use and it is often considered a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to disposable food containers.

Well, of a flatware

The flat part in the middle of a plate is commonly referred to as the "well" or "center." It is the sunken or recessed area of the plate where food is typically placed. It can vary in size and depth depending on the style and purpose of the plate. Some plates have a shallow well, while others have a deeper well that is better suited for containing liquid dishes like soup, sauces or gravies.

Rim, on flatware

In addition to the well, plates also have a raised rim around the edge that helps to prevent food from spilling over the sides. The rim may also serve a decorative purpose, and can be simple or ornate depending on the style of the plate.

Neck, of a bottle

The neck of a bottle is the narrow part at the top of the bottle that is designed to hold a stopper, cork or cap. It typically extends above the shoulder and is usually narrower in diameter than the body of the bottle.


The bottom portion of a vessel, that comes in contact with the surface it rests on during normal use.

A base can be flat or have a variety of shapes depending on the intended design and purpose of the vase.

While a flat base is common, other designs may feature bases that are rounded, concave, or even irregular in shape.

Some bowls and other vessels may have a pedestal or foot that elevates the base off the surface, while others may have a wider, flared base that provides added stability.

Since the base is often an overlooked part of any vessel, the base is an important parts to study since it reveals many details from the manufacturing process and can help pinpoint the actual age and origin of a vessel.

Ring foot

A ring foot is a single, circular band of clay which supports the entire vessel. It varies in height and in thickness, and is applied either as a separate piece, or by being carved out on a potter's wheel but is in contrast to a foot ring an integral part of the vessel.

Foot ring

The foot part of a vessel is commonly referred to as the foot or base. The specific term used to describe the foot can vary depending on the style and design of the vessel. The term "foot ring" refers to a circular ring-shaped base that during potting is either added to the underside of the body or created by scooping out unfired paste from the inside and around the base.


Footrim refers to specifically the lip or edge of the base or foot ring.


A concave molding shaped like a quarter circle in cross section. In porcelain, usually the inward slanting area on a dish or plate between the rim and the flat inner area


Typically the end of a rim or end of any surface, that can have many shapes. Most common in ceramics is rounded.

Various edges

An edge is typically where two surfaces meet each other. If three flat surfaces meet, the edge is either chamfered or bevelled. Sometimes the word tapered is better if the edge gradually narrows - or tapers - towards the end. A chamfer is an edge that connects three surfaces at specifically a 45-degree angle, while a bevelled or tapered edge connects three surfaces at any angle except 90 or 45 degrees.


If for example a globular jar has fluted sides, it means that the sides of the jar have a series of shallow grooves or ridges that run vertically from the top to the bottom of the jar. These grooves or ridges can be either straight or curved and are evenly spaced around the circumference of the jar. Fluting is a decorative feature that can be found on various types of pottery, glassware, and architectural elements.

Fluting was a popular decorative technique used in ancient Greek and Roman architecture, where it was used to create columns, pilasters, and other structural elements. In pottery, fluting can enhance the visual appeal of a vessel by creating a sense of texture and movement on an otherwise smooth surface. Additionally, fluting can also serve a functional purpose, such as providing a better grip for the hand or improving the aerodynamics of a vessel.

Fluting can be either convex or concave. Convex fluting refers to grooves or ridges that protrude outward from the surface of the object, while concave fluting refers to grooves or ridges that are sunken inward into the surface of the object. Both types of fluting can be used to add visual interest to an object and can also serve functional purposes.

In architecture, for example, convex fluting is often used on columns to create a sense of verticality and strength, while concave fluting can be used to soften the visual impact of a column and create a sense of elegance or delicacy. In pottery, convex fluting can be used to create a tactile surface that is pleasing to the touch, while concave fluting can help to distribute heat evenly during cooking or baking.


Fluting and gadrooning are two similar decorative techniques used in art, architecture, and design, but they have some differences.

Fluting involves creating a series of vertical grooves or channels on a curved surface, such as a column or a vase. The grooves can be straight or curved and are typically evenly spaced around the object. Fluting is commonly used to add texture and visual interest to an object, as well as to improve grip or aerodynamics.

Gadrooning, on the other hand, involves creating a series of convex curves or scallops on a curved surface, such as the edge of a plate or the base of a vase. The curves are typically shallow and evenly spaced around the object, and they create a decorative effect that is reminiscent of a series of linked beads or shells. Gadrooning is also commonly used to add texture and visual interest to an object.

While both fluting and gadrooning involve adding decorative elements to curved surfaces, fluting creates vertical grooves or channels, while gadrooning creates a series of convex curves or scallops. Additionally, fluting is often associated with architectural elements, such as columns, while gadrooning is more commonly used in decorative arts such as silverware and ceramics.

Lobed sides

A lobe is a rounded or pointed projection or division on the surface of an object.

Lobed sides refer to a decorative element found on various objects, such as vases, bowls, and plates, where the sides of the object are divided into a series of rounded or pointed lobes. The lobes can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical, and they create a distinctive and visually appealing texture on the surface of the object.

Lobed sides are often used in decorative arts such as pottery, ceramics, and glassware to add interest and visual complexity to the object. The lobes can be smooth and flowing, or they can be sharp and angular, depending on the desired effect. In addition to being decorative, lobed sides can also serve a functional purpose, such as improving the grip of a vase or making it easier to pour liquids from a pitcher with lobed sides.

If the sides of a dish are lobed, it is possible for them to resemble flower petals. Depending on the shape and arrangement of the lobes, the overall effect can be reminiscent of the shape and structure of a flower.

For example, a dish with a circular or oval shape and several evenly spaced, pointed lobes around the perimeter could be said to resemble a flower with multiple petals. Similarly, a dish with curved, overlapping lobes could be reminiscent of the layered petals of a rose or a lotus flower.

Lobed dishes are often used in decorative arts to create floral or botanical designs, as the lobes can be arranged in various ways to mimic the appearance of flowers or leaves. This technique is particularly common in pottery, ceramics, and glassware, where the lobed sides of a dish or bowl can add both visual interest and functional value.


A bowl can have an undulating lip, as in a smooth, flowing shape that is characterized by a series of wave-like curves.


Everted means that the edge is turned or folded outwards, away from the center of the vessel. This creates a lip or rim that flares outward, giving the bowl vessel a wider, more open appearance.

An everted lip can be used on a variety of bowl shapes, from shallow and wide dishes to deep and narrow vessels. The amount of flare or outward fold in the lip can also vary, from a subtle curve to a more pronounced flare.

Sunken base

A sunken base refers to a design element in which the bottom or base of an object is recessed or lowered below the level of the surrounding surface. It is a design element that involves creating a lowered or recessed area at the base of an object.

Sunken bases are common in various decorative arts, such as pottery, ceramics, and glassware. They can add both visual interest and functional value to an object, as the sunken base can provide additional stability to a vessel.


Egg-shaped or oval in form, with one end larger or more rounded than the other. The term is derived from the Latin word "ovum," meaning egg.

Baluster shape

Vase-like, with a wider center section and a more slender top and bottom. The term "baluster" originally referred to a type of pillar or post that was used to support railings or other architectural features. In decorative arts such as ceramics, glassware, and metalwork, the baluster shape is often used to create vessels and objects with a distinctive profile. The shape is typically rounded or cylindrical in the center, with a narrower neck at the top and a wider base at the bottom.

Baluster-shaped objects can range in size from small decorative items to large architectural features. In furniture design, for example, baluster-shaped legs are often used to support tables, chairs, and other pieces. In architecture, baluster-shaped columns or posts are often used to support railings or balconies.

Gourd shape

Gourd shaped refers to a design element that is characterized by a curved or rounded shape that resembles a gourd or squash. Gourds are a type of fruit that belong to the same family as cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons.

In decorative arts such as pottery, ceramics, and glassware, the gourd-shape are often used to create a unique and interesting profile. The shape is typically characterized by a rounded or elongated body with a narrower neck and a wider base, similar to the shape of a gourd.

In some cultures, gourd-shaped objects have traditional or symbolic significance, and they are used in religious or cultural ceremonies.