A large dish decorated in reverse painted style, kakiwake, with a pair of Karako, Chinese boys, Shirasagi, White Egrets, and Chrysanthemums. The border painted with a narrow band of shippo against a blue ground, and the reverse of the dish painted with a series of ten auspicious trigrams divided by zoomorphic motifs, perhaps intended to represent scroll dragons. A double square with a four character reign mark for the Xuande Emperor.
The subject is taken from the Noh play Kikujido, “the Chrysanthemum boy”, one of those curious conflations of a Chinese tale of immortality with an anachronistic Buddhist twist, in which the protagonist Kikujido, a favourite of the Emperor Mu Wang is banished to the remote Lixian mountains. Mu Wang confides a lotus mantra to him, which he is to repeat each day. In order not to forget it, he writes it upon Chrysanthemum leaves, and the lettering is washed by the dew into the stream from which he drinks. The years pass and he does not age, and those living along the stream are blessed with healthy long lives. Hundreds of years later he is found by an emissary of the Emperor Wen Di, who is seeking the source of the health giving waters. Kikujido is astonished to discover so much time has lapsed, and he draws a scoop of water from the stream as a gift to the Emperor Wei Di.
In the dish Kikujido is shown with Shirasagi, White Egrets, symbols of longevity and purity, pouring water from a ladle onto a water wheel, presumably representing the Buddhist Wheel of Life, whilst he holds in his other hand a ruyi septre , another symbol of longevity. In the other half of the dish he carries a flag upon a short pole and points skyward with his finger, whilst his eyes look in the opposite direction presumably this the Buddhist homily “Be like a finger pointing at the moon, but do not focus on the finger or you miss all the heavenly glory”.
The dish measures approximately 31cm or 12.25 inches in diameter, 57mm or 2.25 inches at the rim and weighs 1.373kg. It is in good condition with no cracks, chips or restoration. Shipping at Cost