As a reminder of this bowl's practical nature, it is ornamented with the tools of the barber's trade. A pair of scissors, a straight-edged razor (partially open), a crested mirror, two small balls of soap, and a comb decorate the center. Around the rim are delicate blossoming branches, three birds, and two winged insects. Ornamentation from two cultures, Asian and European, is neatly combined on this work of art.
The bird-and-flower design on the rim was imitated by European artisans from imported Chinese and Japanese porcelain. Porcelain was highly prized in Europe for its amazing thinness, strength, and translucence. Blue-and-white porcelain was especially favored. Since the secret of porcelain production was not known in Europe, tin-glazed earthenware painted in the style of Chinese porcelain proved extremely popular. But earthenware is more brittle than porcelain, and can't be made as thin, so it has a heavier, less delicate appearance.