A Ming Porcelain Ko-Sometsuke Dish, Transitional Period, Tianqi to Chongzhen c.1625-1640. The Scene on this Small Blue and White Dish Perhaps Depicts the Immortal Laozi. The Design Shows a Town with a Pagoda and a Large Banner, the Buildings are Enclosed Between Crenellated Walls with a Large Fortified Gate. In the Foreground is a Figure, Perhaps Laozi, the Immortal who founded Daoism, he is on a Horse with His Servant Processing Along a Path to the Gate.
In good condition, a small but deep rim chip c.3 x 2 mm. Small glaze chips and fritting.
Diameter : 15 cm (6 inches)
I have not been able to find an example that is the same as the present dish, however the design is known in other interpretations ; A similar design but with the figure on an ox with the words han and guan on the gate house (The Han Guan Gate was in the Great Wall of China) which confirms the figure is Laozi, the Immortal who founded Daoism. This is dated Tianqi or Chongzhen c.1620-1635, see : Late Ming, Chinese Porcelain from the Butler Collections (Sir Michael Butler, Musee National d`histoire et d`art, Luxembourg 2008. ISBN 978-2-87985-029-0) page 64, plate 32. For a set of five Ming porcelain dishes with a related scene see : The Peony Pavilion Collection : Chinese Tea Ceramics for Japan (c.1580-1650). Christie`s London 12th June 1989 lot 344. Another Ming porcelain dish with a version of this design in underglaze cobalt blue and copper-red is illustrated in : Trade Taste and Transformation, Jingdezhen Porcelain for Japan, 1620-1645 (Julia B.Curtis, China Institute Gallery, New York 2006) page 95, plate 74. A Ming Porcelain dish of the version of this design mentioned above is illustrated in : Transitional Wares and Their Forerunners (The Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, 1981) page 165 plate 128.
Ko-Sometsuke : Ko-Sometsuke, meaning `Old Blue and White` is a term used to describe Chinese blue and white porcelain made for Japan. This late Ming porcelain was made from the Wanli period (1573-1620) and ended in the Chongzhen period (1628-1644), the main period of production being the 1620`2 and 1630`s. The porcelain objects produced were made especially for the Japanese market, both the shapes and the designs were tailored to Japanese taste, the production process too allowed for Japanese aesthetics to be included in the finished object. Its seams firing faults were added, repaired tears in the leather-hard body were too frequent to not, in some cases, be deliberate. These imperfections as well as the fritting Mushikui (insect-nibbled) rims and kiln grit on the footrims all added to the Japanese aesthetic. The shapes created were often expressly made for the Japanese tea ceremony meal, the Kaiseki, small dishes for serving food at the tea ceremony are the most commonly encountered form. Designs, presumably taken from Japanese drawings sent to China, are very varied, often using large amount of the white porcelain contrasting well with the asymmetry of the design.