The Shanghai Urn
The urn from the Norwegians in Shanghai was a gift to King Haakon in connection with the coronation in 1906.
Shanghai is one of the largest cities in China. Located along a heavily-trafficked waterway in the Yangtze delta, the city developed into an important port several hundred years ago. Up to the signing of the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, China had been a protectionist, closed country. Once the treaty entered into force, however, China was required to open its borders to international trade. Shanghai emerged as a key hub for international trade, and the Chinese customs authority was dominated by foreigners from 1854. While a majority of the Norwegians living in Shanghai in 1906 were working in the shipping industry, there were also some serving in the international customs agency, as missionaries, engineers, businessmen or as members of the Foreign service.
The urn from the Norwegians in Shanghai was a gift to the king in connection with the coronation in 1906. The urn expresses the close ties maintained by Norwegians abroad for their home country and their feelings for the new Norwegian monarchy. Coronation day was celebrated in Shanghai by Norwegians together with selected guests. According to Norwegian newspaper reports at the time, the event was celebrated in the English Club and commemorated by a steamship journey up the Whampoa River.
The urn is thought to have been fashioned by Cheung Shing. It features classical Chinese ornamentation, including handles shaped like dragons and legs formed as bamboo branches. The urn is crowned with a miniature pagoda. The pagoda is a Buddhist religious structure, and may in this context be intended to signify luck. Dragon figures also appear on the body of the urn. In China, dragons are considered to be sacred, representing blessings, joy and happiness.
Silver and wood
Height: 86,5 cm