Tianqi (1621-1627), was bought up in this self indulgent disorganised environment, at the very young age 15 his short reign started. He didn`t stand a chance. Tianqi made the mistake of entrusting eunuch Wei Zhongxian (1568-1627) who Anna Paludan in her excellent book “Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors” (Thames and Hudson, 1998) describes as “a gangster of the first order”. Tianqi was deemed to have lost the Mandate of heaven by the Ming people. Tianqi`s younger brother, the last of the Ming Emperors, Chongzhen (1628-1644), was not able to save the situation. The systems of administration had broken down, corruption was rife and so when a sever famine broke out in 1628 nothing much could be done. Anna Paludan describes the tragic end to the great Ming Dynasty “The final drama was worthy of a Greek tragedy. The emperor called a last council in which `all were silent and many wept`, the imperial troops fled or surrendered, and the emperor, after helping his two sons escape in disguise, got drunk and rushed through the palace ordering the women to kill themselves. The empress and Tianqi`s widow committed suicide; the emperor hacked off the arm of one daughter before killing her sister and the concubines. At dawn he laid his dragon robe aside and dressed in purple and yellow, with one foot bare, climbed the hill behind the now silent palace and hanged himself on a locust tree”.
For a pair of very similar Ming porcelain dishes also dated 1628 see : Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Christie`s London, December 10th 1990. Lot 161.
For a further dish of this design from The John Drew Collection see our `Sold Items` stock number 18535.
For a very similar dish with a single character in the center see : The Wanli Shipwreck and Its Ceramic Cargo (Sten Sjostrand, Sharipah Lok bt. Syed Idrus, National Museum of Malaysia, 2007. ISBN 967-9935-74-4) page 254 and 255. (We are indebted to Mr Cyril Beecher for drawing our attention to this reference).
A Private English Collection.