Diameter: 8 1/2 inches, 21.6 cm
Height: 1 1/4 inches, 3.2 cm

Porcelain dish with a dragon

China, Kangxi period, 1662 - 1723

A porcelain dish of circular form, the rim upturned. The inside centre is painted in strong cobalt blue with a vigorous four-clawed dragon, contained within a double circle and confronting a carp that leaps from the waves beneath him. The horned animal is depicted with mouth wide open, bearing its teeth and has a scaly body.  The broad rim is moulded with a chrysanthemum pattern on the outside and is painted with scattered flower heads and waves.  The flower head pattern is repeated on the outside rim. The centre back is painted with a beribboned precious object, contained within a double circle.

The pattern of dragons on blue and white dishes dates back to the Ming dynasty; see for instance a number of examples in the collection of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.1  A late 17th century bowl with a striding, bifid dragon is in the Meiyintang collection.2   The same collection also has a Yongzheng (1723 – 1735) mark and period dish, painted with a confronting, winged dragon.3 A very similar, slightly larger blue and white four-clawed dragon dish from the collection of Samuel Putnam Avery Sr. (1822 – 1904), housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was accessioned in 1879, was deaccessioned in 2016.4  A very similar dragon in coloured enamels can be seen on the inside of a porcelain bowl with a Qianlong mark that was exhibited in Hamburg in 2000.5  A carp (Liyu) transforming into a dragon (long) signifies the wish “May you pass the civil service examination and become a high official”.6

  1. Li, He Chinese Ceramics, the New standard Guide, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1996, nos. 418 – 421, p. 224
  2. Krahl, R. Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Volume Two, Azimuth Editions, London 1994, no. 760, p. 130
  3. Krahl, R, op. cit. No 761, p. 130
  4. https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/ Lot/a-molded-blue-and-white-dish-kangxi.6017629-details.aspx
  5. Peitninger, F X, Drachenkralle und Rattenschwanz. Das Tier in der ostasiatische Kunst, Hamburg 2000, pl. 32, p. 41
  6. Tse Bartholomew, T. Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2006, 4.11.1. p. 92