There is a possibility that this stately East India Company objet d'art, comprising a seventeenth century sake rice-wine ewer metamorphosised into an India golden-chained tea-pot, formed part of porcelain tea-equipage displayed by John Digby, 3rd Earl of Bristol (d.1698) and his Countess Anne. It may even have been present during the visit of William III and Queen Mary II to Sherborne Castle, Dorset on the occasion that they signed documents leading to their 1688 accession to the English throne. Like the Earl and Countess of Exeter at Burghley, the Countess shared the Queen's enthusiasm for such works of art and gave particular commissions for Japanese porcelain (see forthcoming article by Mark Hinton). This spring-flowered pot, scalloped with quatrefoil flutes, bears a trompe l'oeil bamboo spout and is decorated with fanciful ho-ho (ho-o) birds. Such ornament well suited the lacquer tea-table displays of fashionable bedroom apartments as well as the contemporary Chinese/India garden pavilion temples. One such chain-lidded pot was displayed in the seventeenth century on the Javanese lacquer table belonging to Elizabeth, Duchess of Lauderdale at Ham House, Surrey (C. Ikin, The National Trust, Royal Connections Exhibition, 2005, no .10f).
Related tea-pots, with golden and foliated mounts, including one in the porcelain collections at Dresden, are illustrated D.F. Lunsingh Scheurleer, Chinesisches und japanisches Porzellan in europäischen Fassungen, (Braunschweig, 1980), fig. 133.
Other similar examples, un-mounted, are in the Toguri Museum of Art (see Japanese Ceramics in the Toguri Collection, 1988, no. 282), the Shibatas Collection (see exhibition catalogue of the Kyushu Ceramic Museum, Commemorative Exhibition for the Contribution, Shibatas Collection Part 2, the 1991, No. 548), and one in the exhibition of the Nederlandse Vereniging van Vrienden van de Ceramiek, the Gemeentelijk Museum Het Princesshof, Leeuwarden, 1981, No. 13.
We are grateful to Richard Barker for this information.