Don’t confuse this antique ‘zhadou’ with your common spittoon


I saw a beautiful antique Chinese porcelain bowl at an auction. It was blue and white with painted dragons, and it had an unusual shape — rounded with a flared rim. The description called it a “zhadou,” but did not say what that meant.

A zhadou is a bowl for discarding used tea leaves and other table scraps. They usually have a globular body, shoulders, a flared rim and a short foot. The shape resembles a squat vase. They are often porcelain, but some are made from pottery or cloisonne.

Some auctions may list them as spittoons. In the early 20th century, the word “zhadou” was translated into English as “leys jar” from a Dutch term. Now, it is usually translated as “waste bowl” or “slop jar,” but these are not the same thing.

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