Diameter: 6 3/4 inches, 17.6 cm
Height: 1 1/2 inches, 3.8 cm


Ding-type porcelain dish

China, Northern Song dynasty, 10th - 11th century

A ding-type circular porcelain dish, supported on a small ring foot, the thinly potted sides flaring out towards the rim and terminating in a lipped edge. The interior of the dish is carved with a bold design of a daylily amongst scrolling foliage. The exterior of the dish is plain. The porcelain body is covered in an evenly applied, glossy ivory-coloured glaze, leaving just the outer rim and part of the foot unglazed, where it shows the white porcelain body.

Daylilies (xuancao in Chinese) gained their name for only flowering for one day.  The freely drawn decoration of daylily on this dish serves not merely as a decorative device, but also has various auspicious meanings; it is known in China as wangyoucao, the ‘plant that dispels grief’; as yinancao, ‘boy-favoring herb’, where it expresses a wish for male offspring; or symbolizing children’s love towards their mothers. The boldly carved decorations often featured on ding porcelains are a Song innovation, and they have an almost painterly quality. In carving the design, the potter appears to have ignored the central ring that was first carved into the dish. Delicate ding porcelains with dense, high-fired bodies and strong glazes are the precursors of true porcelain. Dishes such as the present example were fired upside-down in the kiln, necessitating the rims to be wiped clean of glaze before firing, to prevent them from becoming stuck to the kiln floor. The resulting unglazed rims are brittle, and dishes and bowls were therefore often bound in thin strips of metal. A smaller ding-type dish with a daylily, contained within a central circle, is in the collection of Robin and R. Randolph Richmond, Jr.[1]  A white stoneware deep bowl with similar carved decoration of daylilies is in the collection of Kai-Yin Lo.[2]

Ben Janssens Oriental Art, October 2017
Private Collection, UK

1    Rotondo-McCord, L. Five Thousand Years of Chinese Ceramics from the Robin and R. Randolph Richmond, Jr. Collection, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, 2005, pl. 55, p. 80
2    Lo, Kai-Yin (ed.) Bright as Silver, White as Snow, Chinese White Ceramics from Late Tang to Yuan Dynasty, Denver Art Museum 1998, pl. 19, pp. 122-3