The Bodhisattva Collection

A Very Rare Kangxi Copy of an Edo Copy of a Ming Dish

A Very Rare Kangxi Copy of an Edo Copy of a Ming Dish

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Porcelain: Pre 1800: Item # 937218
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From our Chinese Blue and White Collection, a very rare Kangxi Period (1662-1722) porcelain dish, which is actually a Kangxi version of an earlier Japanese version of yet an even earlier Ming kraakware design, depicting a flower basket in the center medallion, surrounded by ogival panels of buddhist objects and auspicious symbols in the outer border, all very well-painted in varying shades of good Kangxi blue with an excellent glaze.

To novice eyes, this dish probably looks like just another Asian flower basket design dish, but this particular dish is actually a very rare, highly obscure, and esoteric item that is probably best suited only for advanced blue and white collectors. Within the vast gamut of Kangxi blue and white wares in general, there is a much smaller sub-category of Kangxi wares that were made in imitation of earlier Ming Dynasty kraak porcelain. While these "Kangxi kraak revival" dishes (for lack of a better term) are themselves a discrete and small sub-category, they are nevertheless a known group, and there are at least a few documented examples in the secondary literature. Most of these pieces date to the latter part of the Kangxi period, probably 1700-1720, and we do carry a few of these dishes because we have always been fascinated by this group. But this particular dish is an even more rare and esoteric example of an already rare and esoteric sub-category, in that it is actually a Chinese version of a Japanese version of an earlier Chinese Ming design!!! Allow us to explain:

The so-called Transitional Period (or Interregnum Period), is the time between the fall of the great Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. Due to the chaos in China at that time and the lack of Imperial control over the kilns, Chinese porcelain production fell off markedly, and the Dutch had to turn to the newly emerging Japanese porcelain industry to keep up with Europe's insatiable demand for this exotic new "Oriental" porcelain they were becoming accustomed to. But with the Japanese industry still in its infancy at that time, the easiest and surest thing for the Japanese porcelain makers to do (and at the behest of the Dutch), was to essentially copy or make variations of earlier Chinese Ming kraakware designs that were already popular in Europe. And that's what they did for much of the early Japanese Edo Period, which corresponds in time to the Chinese Transitional Period. But when China finally got grasp of its State affairs in the subsequent Kangxi Period, they were faced with meeting porcelain demand from Europe that had now been supplied in large measure by the Japanese for a few decades. So in certain instances, some Kangxi Period kilns began copying what were essentially Japanese versions of earlier Chinese Ming kraakware designs! And so that in fact is what this fascinating dish is: A Chinese copy of a Japanese copy of an earlier Chinese Ming kraakware plate... The overall style with buddhist symbols in ogival panels in the border surrounding a central medallion, is unmistakably a Chinese Ming kraak style, but the flower basket in this dish is actually a Japanese style that was apparently copied by the Chinese painter who made this dish! A fascinating piece for those who appreciate the history and inter-connectivity between the Chinese and Japanese porcelain traditions.

Size and condition: 8 7/8 inches in diameter, 1 1/2 inches deep, a few shallow rim frits and a few insignificant nicks to the footrim, excellent overall condition. A good ring when tapped.