A cloisonne enamel lotus pattern saucer

明十五世紀前半期   掐絲琺瑯纏枝蓮紋碟

The saucer is of shallow circular form with gently rising sides resting on a footless base. The interior is decorated in unmixed bright red, blue, white and yellow enamels with a large central stylized lotus pod, with concentric tiers of multi-coloured lappets, surrounded by a broad band of scrolling lotus, with differently coloured blooms borne on slender stems with curly green leaves tipped in yellow and red, all on a turquoise-blue ground. The reverse is similarly decorated with lotus, around a central medallion of crossed vajras.

Provenance:
Sotheby's Paris, 18th December 2012, lot 26
Old French private collection

Exhibited:
Priestley & Ferraro, 'Song Ceramics & Works of Art', London, November 2013, cat. no. 17

Cloisonné enamel saucers or dishes of any type dating to the first half of the fifteenth century are extremely rare, and none very close to the present saucer appears to have been published. For an example of a dish of similar date, though with a barbed rim, see James C. Y. Watt and Denise Patry Leidy, Defining Yongle: Imperial Art in Early Fifteenth-Century China, p.38, pl.8. The function of this small saucer is not known, but the presence of the visvavajra or vajra cross, a powerful symbol representing an unshakeable foundation, in coloured enamels on the reverse suggests a use in Tibetan Buddhist ceremony.

Dimensions: Diameter: 13.5 cm, 5 ⅜ inches

Date: Ming dynasty, first half 15th century

Stock No. 1906

Price: On Request