Large & Very Rare Chinese Ming Dynasty Blue & White Porcelain Bowl with Bi Disc Foot - Wanli Shipwreck
This very rare porcelain bowl was made at the Jingdezhen kilns, Jiangxi province in the north-east of China during the last years of the Wanli reign (1573 - 1620) or possibly the Taichang reign (1620) or the Tianqi reign (1621 - 1627); it was recovered from the "Wanli shipwreck" that has been dated to c. 1625.
This bowl has a very interesting decoration: to the centre of the inner surface is the double peach motif (the peach being the emblem of marriage and a symbol of immortality and springtime). The main decoration is to the outer wall and features two pheasants (the symbol of beauty and good fortune), one flying and one standing, amongst various flowering plants including the chrysanthemum (the emblem of autumn, also associated with a life of ease and retirement).
It is not only the size and decoration that makes this bowl so rare, but also the bi disc style foot. This foot-ring style is very rarely seen and on this bowl is particularly nicely-cut. The total number of such bi disc footed bowls recovered from the Wanli Shipwreck was a mere 8, not including a quantity of shards of such bowls that weighed 14 kg and would have equated to around 18 bowls. Not only this, but there were at least 4 different decorative patterns shared by only these 8 bowls !
Diameter 22.25 cm (8.75 inches). Professional repairs were performed to many examples of porcelain from the Wanli shipwreck prior to being released for sale. Although not immediately obvious, there are repairs to the rim edge, and a section of the wall has been broken and re-stuck.
For information: the "Wanli Shipwreck" is believed to have been a small Portuguese merchantman; it sank off the east coast of West Malaysia around 1625. The site was excavated in 2004 and much of the excavated cargo was sold by the prestigious "China Guardian" auction house in Beijing in late 2005, with some surprisingly high prices being achieved.
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