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TIANQI PERIOD (1621-1627)

28.2 cm diameter

The dish is sturdily potted with rounded sides, the left and right sides curved inwards. The interior is painted in underglaze blue, green and yellow enamels and iron-red with three irregularly placed fan-shaped panels enclosing a tree with curling tendrils, a scholar accompanied by a saddled horse, and two deer in a landscape. The folding fans are slightly overlapping and surrounded by detached sprays of cockscomb, peony, lingzhi and lotus. The rim is encircled by a colourful border of triangles against an underglaze blue ground. The underside of the dish is decorated with boldly painted radiating petals in underglaze blue highlighted with iron-red. The recessed, slightly convex base is covered with transparent glaze.

The present dish is probably unique as no other dish of this extraordinary shape and design seems to be known. The two curved sides are perhaps the most striking feature. Several dishes, bowls and charcoal containers  with a single side curved inwards have been published, but it is extremely rare to find a piece with two opposite furled sides. When held with both hands the dish feels remarkably comfortable and natural.


Wucai dish painted with a Buddhist figure, with one side pushed inwards, is illustrated in Yamanaka Shokai, Ko-akai Sara Hyaku Sen, Old Coloured Ware Dishes Selected Hundred Dishes, Part One, Osaka, 1933, pl. 33. The decoration of three or five folding fans can be seen on several Ko-sometsuke dishes, but rarely on Wucai  examples. Fan-shaped dishes were produced in the same period, often occurring in sets of five. Fans as a decorative motif on porcelain for the Japanese market probably derived from Japanese textiles dating from the early seventeenth century.


Formerly in Japanese private collection

Acquired from Takashi Yanagi, Kyoto


Kaikodo Journal, Spring 2012, vol. XXVIII, no. 65

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