Shallow dish "Zhangzhou"

420 €

Late Ming dynasty, China, private collection from Finland.

The Ming dynasty, officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). In 1368 rebel armies, led by Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398), overthrew the Yuan, and Zhu established a dynasty he named Da Ming ("Great Brightness"). It was the fourth longest Chinese dynasty, lasting for 276 years and ruled by over seventeen emperors. Despite the challanges from abroad and within, the dynasty would oversee an unprecedented growth in China's population and general economic prosperity. Notable achievements included the construction of the Forbidden City, the imperial residence in Beijing. The Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal were both almost completely rebuilt by the Ming Dynasty. Known for its trade expansion to the outside world that established cultural ties with the West, the Ming Dynasty is also remembered for the literature and art. One of the best-loved exports of the Ming dynasty was its porcelain. Though various colors might be featured on a piece, the classic Ming porcelain was white and blue.

Jingdezhen ("the city of all day thunder and lightning") is located in the northeastern part of Jiangxi province and is known as the porcelain centre of the world. Some historians believe that ceramics production may have started there in Han dynasty (206BC-220AD), with kilns spread along the Chang River, south and southeast of the town. Its most productive period, however, began during the Song period and especially in the later Nan (Southern) Song period, when many ceramics workers from the north arrived in the city as refugees from the Jin invasion. In the late 12th century great quantities of porcelain were exported from the area. By the 14th century it had become the largest centre of production of Chinese porcelain. An imperial porcelain factory was created in in 1368 to produce wares for the imperial court and the government in general. From Ming period onwards, official kilns in Jingdezhen were controlled by emperor, making "imperial porcelain" in large quantities for the court and the emperor to give as gifts. Zhangzhou (Swatow) ware is a loose grouping of mainly late Ming dynasty export porcelain wares initially intended for the Southeast Asian market. Compared to Jingdezhen porcelain, Zhangzhou ware is generally coarse, crudely potted and often under-fired. Decoration is underglaze blue and white using cobalt is most common, and was probably the only type of decoration at first.

A gorgeous, Zhangzhou (Swatow) dish, loosely painted in grayish blue palette with traditional designs. With stylized "Fu" character in center, typically surrounded by bisquited brown band. On the reverse four concentric bands in underglaze blue. The most common decorative motifs are flower patterns, peonies, lotus and chrysanthemum. Good condition. Age-related wear, minor abrasion. Small hairline fracture. Footring has kiln grits. Fritting and glazing flaws. Lovely patina. Size approx. 28,0cm x 28,0cm x 6,0cm. Weight c. 967g.

References, sources and citations:

The Ceramic Trade Across the South China Sea c. AD 1350-1650, Barbara Harrisson, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 76, No. 1, 2003, pp. 99-114.

Swatow, Barbara Harrisson, Publisher: Museum het Princessehof, Leeuwarden, 1979.

The Wares of the Transitional Period between the Ming and the Ch'Ing 1620-1683, Soame Jenyns, Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America, Published By: Duke University Press, Vol. 9, 1955, pp. 20-42.

Zhangzhou (Swatow) Ceramics. Sixteenth to Seventeenth Centuries Found In Indonesia, Sumarah Adhyatman, Publisher: The Ceramic Society of Indonesia, 1999.