A British Museum spotlight loan - A Ming Emperor's Seat

See a beautiful glazed blue and white garden seat dating from the Ming dynasty.

Side view, large hollow blue and white porcelain garden seat, Jingdezhen, 1573–1620 © The Trustees of the British Museum lent by kind permission of the Trustees of the Sir Percival David Foundation


Saturday 25 April - Sunday 19 July

Visitor information


Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm
Saturday: 10am - 4pm
Sunday: 11am - 4pm


World Cultures gallery, first floor.


Donations welcome (free entry). 

Drop in, no booking required.


One of the largest porcelains in the Sir Percival David Collection held at the British Museum, a beautiful glazed blue and white garden seat dating from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), is set to tour the UK in 2020. This marks the first time that the seat has been lent to an external venue in the UK, presenting a rare opportunity to view the object outside of London as part of the British Museum’s National Programmes.

The garden seat was made for the court of the Wanli Emperor (r.1573–1620), one of the longest reigning of all the Ming dynasty emperors. Crafted in Jingdezhen, the porcelain capital of China for over a thousand years, the seat gives an invaluable insight into Chinese court culture. Measuring nearly half a metre high, the large hollow seat may have been moved from inside court to the surrounding gardens, reflecting the needs of court life. The object features blue dragons surrounded by clouds, waves and a flaming jewel. Dense patterns of leaves and flowers ornament the sides which are pierced with intricate rings. The use of a dragon is significant because in China, dragons are used as an auspicious motif and as a shorthand symbol for the emperor himself.


The British Museum