This Ming dynasty stem bowl -- a shape used in Buddhist ritual -- exemplifies the finest blue-and-white porcelains of the early fifteenth century. The design is painted in underglaze cobalt blue. Leafy tendrils of a lotus scroll enframe eight blossoms, each topped with one of Buddhism's Eight Auspicious Emblems: a pair of fish, a lotus flower, a canopy, a parasol, a conch shell, the wheel of dharma, an endless knot, and a vase. These symbolize freedom, purity, righteousness, respect, the Buddha's voice, Buddhist law, compassion, and truth.
CHINESE MING DYNASTY
Xuande period, 1426/1435
MATERIAL: Porcelain with underglaze blue decoration
DIMENSIONS: 8.3 x 15.6 cm (3 1/4 x 6 1/8 in.)
COLLECTION: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Harry G. Steele Collection, gift of Grace C. Steele
ACCESSION NUMBER: 1972.43.5