Bottle of the type known as meiping

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Yongle reign, 1403-1424
Porcelain with cobalt decoration under colorless glaze
Jingdezhen ware
H x W: 24.8 x 15.2 cm (9 3/4 x 6 in)
China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 13: Looking Out, Looking In: Art in Late Imperial China
Ceramic, Vessel


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

Improvements in porcelain production, including in the removal of impurities from clay, led to a new desire in the Yongle reign to create spacious designs that showcased the snowy brilliance of the porcelain itself. The imagery here is standard of the Yongle period, including the motifs' display of natural color variations in the blue that result from mineral inclusions in the cobalt imported from Iran. During firing, silvery-black-purple crystalline spots were often produced, a separation of colors known as the "heaped and piled" effect.
The fluidly painted lotus flowers, buds, large leaves, and grain stalks display a sensitive observation of nature that was new in Yongle-period porcelain decoration. The combination of lotus and grain stalks was probably understood as a visual pun, or rebus, reading "Peace year after year"--an especially good motto for the Yongle emperor, who had usurped the throne and needed to establish stability at the court. 

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics (Toyo Toji Taikan): The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. pl. 92.
  • Mayuyama Junkichi, H. Igaki. Chinese Ceramics in the Freer Gallery of Art. no. 43, October 1956. pl. 3.
  • Mayuyama Junkichi. Obei shuzo chugoku toji zuroku (Chinese Ceramics in the West). Tokyo. pl. 90.
  • Ming Porcelains in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 1953. p. 12, fig. 2.
  • Sekai toji zenshu (Catalogue of the World's Ceramics). 16 vols, Tokyo, 1955-1958. p. 197, fig. 70.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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