Porcelain bowl with lotus petals on exterior

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Yongle or Xuande reign, early 15th century, probably Yongle reign
Porcelain with cobalt under colorless glaze
Jingdezhen ware
H x W: 10 x 21 cm (3 15/16 x 8 1/4 in)
China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


China, flower, Jingdezhen ware, lotus, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), porcelain, WWII-era provenance, Xuande reign (1426 - 1435), Yongle reign (1403 - 1424)
Provenance information is currently unavailable

The deep, conical shape of this vessel is known in Chinese as a "lotus pod bowl," in reference to its silhouette that resembles the seedpod at the center of a lotus flower. Long, pointed petals on the exterior reinforce the lotus imagery. Inside the bowl, a spray of loquat appears at the bottom; scrolls of chrysanthemum and camellia blossoms, standing for autumn and winter, also appear. This design may suggest a seasonal use of the bowl. 
The bowl is unmarked, and since its type was prized at both the Yongle and Xuande courts, the vessel is difficult to date precisely, although this example seems more likely of the Yongle reign. Appreciation for this type of bowl extended far beyond China; similar examples were sent in the fifteenth century to not only the Near East and but also Europe.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics (Toyo Toji Taikan): The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. pl. 93.
  • Ming Porcelains in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 1953. p. 13, fig. 3.
  • Ann Frank. Chinese Blue and White. New York. p. 38.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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