A Ming Blue and White Dish, Wanli Period c.1590-1620. Decorated with a Fenghuang (Phoenix) in a Landscape. The Border with precious Objects Tied with Ribbons. The Base with a Seal Mark (Shop Mark).
Diameter : 14.5 cm (5 3/4 inches)
A very similar but fragmentary example of this pattern and form was recovered from a shipwreck of 1613 see : The Ceramic Load of the Witte Leeuw 1613 (Edited by C.L van der Pijl-Ketel, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1982, ISBN 90-9309-6) page 187, 3.21.8
For a Ming Swatow ware version of this design produced at the Guangdong or Fujian Kilns see : from the wreck of the San Diego dated to 1600 see : Le San Diego, Un tresor sous la mer (Dominique Carre, Jean-Paul Desroches and Frank Goddio, Reunion des Musees Nationaux,1994. ISBN 2-7118-3135-3) page 358, cat. 132.
For a Ming Kinrande porcelain dish with a central design closely relating to the present example see : Catalogue of Late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum (Jessica Harrison-Hall, The British Museum Press, 2001. ISBN 0-7141-1488-X) page 328, 11:138A.
Phoenix / Fenghuang : Fenghuang are mythological birds of East Asia that reign over all other birds. The males are called Feng and the females Huang. In modern times, however, such a distinction of gender is often no longer made and the Feng and Huang are blurred into a single feminine entity so that the bird can be paired with the Chinese dragon, which has male connotations. The Fenghuang is also called the `August Cockerel` since it sometimes takes the place of the cockerel in the Chinese Zodiac. In the West, it is commonly referred to as the Chinese phoenix. The Fenghuang has very positive connotations. It is a symbol of high virtue and grace. The Fenghuang also symbolizes the union of yin and yang. In ancient China, they can often be found in the decorations for weddings or royalty, along with dragons. This is because the Chinese considered the dragon and phoenix symbolic of blissful relations between husband and wife, another common yin and yang metaphor. In some traditions it appears in good times but hides during times of trouble, while in other traditions it appeared only to mark the beginning of a new era. In China and Japan it was a symbol of the imperial house, and it represented `fire, the sun, justice, obedience, and fidelity`.