Diameter: 14 3/4 inches 37.2 cm

Du Jin, ‘Court Ladies in the Inner Palace’
Du Jin, ‘Court Ladies in the Inner Palace’ (detail) © Shanghai Museum

Famille verte porcelain dish

China, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period, 1662-1722

A large famille verte porcelain dish, the centre painted in bright green, yellow, blue, aubergine and black enamels, as well as iron-red and gold, with five ladies and two young boys and a dog in a garden setting. Three of the ladies are playing a game of football, kicking the ball from one to the other. The flat everted rim is richly decorated with a border of various geometric grounds, divided by oval panels of alternating twin fish, squirrel and antiquities motifs. The reverse side of the rim is decorated in famille verte with three sprays of peony, the base with a leaf withing a double ring in underglaze blue.

The depiction of ladies playing football (cuju) on porcelain is rare and seems to derive from paintings. A painted scroll attributed to Du Jin  杜堇 (c. 1465–1509) in the collection of the Shanghai Museum, see detail below, illustrates how court ladies were practicing sports such as horse riding, fishing, and football.The detail also shows that the football game is practised by three ladies, while the other ladies are watching. A large blue and white fifteenth-century porcelain jar (guan) with the same scene of three ladies playing football, is in the collection of the National Ceramics Museum Princessehof, Leeuwarden, object number NO 00665.

Formerly in a Dutch private collection