Sold Ceramics - Sold Blue and White Kangxi Period 1660-1722 - Dishes - Page 1
Height 42 mm (1.65 inch), diameter of rim 278 mm (10.95 inch), diameter of footring 150 mm (5.91 inch)
Dish of moulded form on footring, flat rim with a foliated edge. Decorated in underglaze blue with a scholar and his servant, two ladies, a horse and a sedan-chair in a fenced landscape with a pine tree, clouds and mountains in the background. On the sides ten moulded petal-shaped panels, each enclosing a flowering plant issuing from taihu (garden) rocks with an insect in flight. Around the rim a trellis- and scale-pattern border. On the reverse three flower sprays. Marked on the base with the symbol mark 'Mandarin mark of honour', in a double circle, underglaze blue.
Romance of the Western Chamber
The love story' Romance of the Western Chamber' (Xixiang ji) ranks among the most famous literary works of China. Its importance for young people can be compared to that of Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' in the West. 'Romance of the Western Chamber' was written by Wang Shifu (1260-1336). There already existed a short story in the Tang dynasty titled 'Biography of Yingying' (Yingying Zhuan) by Yuan Zhen (779-831), but Wang Shifu adapted it by adding details and giving it a happy rather than a sad ending. It tells the story of a forbidden love affair between the civil servant Zhang Sheng, who is gifted, but of a poor family background, and the pretty Cui Yingying, daughter of the Prime Minister. The two young people have their first encounter in a Buddhist temple, where Yingying and her mother have taken lodgings when accompanying the coffin of the recently deceased father back home. Suddenly, the temple is besieged by a local gang of outlaws, who demand the daughter to be handed over. Yingying's mother promises her daughter's hand in marriage to whoever saves the daughter from falling into the hands of the gang leader. However, when Zhang succeeds in doing so with the help of General Du, his childhood friend, she does not keep her promise. The young couple start a secret affair, supported by Hongniang ('Lady in Red'), Yingying's maid. When Yingying's mother discovers the affair, she consents to the marriage on the condition that Zhang passes the final examination for the highest position in the civil service of the capital, Zhang does so well, that he is granted a top position. (Suebsman 2019, p.43)
On this dish we see how the talented but improvised student Zhang takes his farewell of Yingying and her maid Hongniang in order to travel to the capital, where he will be taking his public service exams. That is the condition set by Yingying's mother for her consent to their marrying. Zhang's sedan-chair stands ready while his servant prepares the luggage (the pile of scholarly books). (Jörg 2011/2, p.101, Scene 20)
For identically shaped, sized and decorated dishes, please see:
- Porzellanschätze der Kangxi-Zeit / Porcelain Treasures of the Kangxi Period, (Exhibition catalogue, Deutsch-Chinesische Verlagsanstalt, Düsseldorf / Beijing 2015), pp.154-155, cat 83.
For similarly decorated dishes, please see:
- Oriental Ceramics at the Cape of Good Hope 1652-1795. An account of the porcelain trade of the Dutch East India Company with particular reference to ceramics with the V.O.C. monogram, the Cape Market and South African Collections, (C.S. Woodward, Cape Town & Rotterdam, 1974), p.36, cat. 51.
- Chinese ceramiek, catalogue Haags Gemeentemuseum, (B. Jansen, De Tijdstroom, Lochem, 1976), p.126, cat. 284.
- Kostbaar Goed van Grote Pracht. Chinees en Japans exportporselein uit de 17e en 18e eeuw, (Mr. L.C.A.M. Schölvinck, Zwolle 2010), pp. 32-33.
Condition: Two firing flaws, one to the rim and one to the base from which two hairlines originate, a small chip and some frits to the rim.