Large Ming Porcelain Dishes For Banquets and Offerings :
From Ming, Porcelain For a Globalised Trade (Eva Strober, Arnoldsche Art Publishers 2013. ISBN 978-3-89790-389-0) page 172 “The Chinese, who ate from small bowls and dishes, would not have any use for huge dishes. They seem to have been made especially for the South East Asian and Middle Eastern markets These large shapes appeared during the Yuan (1279-1368) dynasty, founded by the Mongols, who encouraged foreign trade. The traditional route of nanhi, the southern seas of maritime South East Asia, was now flourishing. There these dishes were status symbols and heirlooms of chiefs. It is highly likely that these kinds of large dishes were placed in front of Western travellers, as happened to Pigafetta when he visited the Philippines and Borneo in 1521 and ate from dishes `placed as mats`. Large dishes were also used at Muslim courts in Indonesia for offering and traditional feasts until well into the twentieth century”. Antonio Pigafetta (c. 1491–1531) was an Italian scholar and explorer from the Republic of Venice. He travelled with the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew by order of the King Charles I of Spain on their voyage to the Indies.
Ming Blue and White `Provincial` Porcelain :
Pieces like the present Ming Porcelain example have traditionally been referred to as `Provincial Blue and White Porcelain` because the potting and painted appear as being some what rustic. Sometimes `provincial` pieces have a great strength and freedom that can be lacking in more refined objects. Recent research in China has shown that there was little Blue and White Porcelain produced outside the main kiln complex of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province. The exception might be Dehua in Fujian province but the Blue and White Porcelain production from those kilns is distinct from the kilns at Jingdezhen.
Peonies are the most commonly encountered flower on Chinese porcelain, indeed in Chinese art in general. There are two cultivated types of peony commonly depicted, the tree peony Paeonia Suffruicosa (Mudan) and the herbaceous peony P.Lactiflora (Shaoyao). Both have rich exuberant flowers with thin silk like petals but the plants are rather different to each other. The tree peony is not in fact a tree but a deciduous shrub, sometimes rather large and sprawling, it has irregular woody stems. It shares a similar leaf and flower form to the herbaceous peony but they are not close in other ways. The Chinese refer to the peony as the `King of flowers` and are seen as equivalent to the first rank among officials. The flowers are closely associated with royalty because they have been grown in imperial gardens since the Sui dynasty (581-618). The peony is one of the flowers of the four seasons and represents the Spring. It symbolizes wealth and honour, honour in the sense of high rank, having an official position, or high social status.