This vessel is thought to have been used as an oil lamp, perhaps on the scholar’s table during the early 18th century. A cylindrical holder at the centre would have held a wick which was fed with oil from the bowl. Modelled sea creatures including a crab, shrimp and fish, and lotus plants applied to the interior, would have appeared under the light of the burning wick, as if in a sea of glowing oil.The liveliness of the applied creatures and the fine 'pie crust' rim create a delicacy in this piece, which is otherwise quite heavily potted. The whole piece, except for the footring, is covered in a superb ivory-toned glaze.Dehua, located on the southeast coast of Fujian province, is well known for its production of white porcelain, known to Europeans as 'blanc de Chine'. The earliest Dehua porcelain was produced as early as the 14th century but the production and quality of these porcelain peaked around the 17th and 18th centuries.