Antique Blue and White Porcelain Plate
Item No. 1073
18th - 19th Century, N/A, China
1.75" x 0" x 0"
( 4.445 x 0 x 0 cm)
(H x W x D)
This 17-18th century porcelain under glaze blue and white plate has a round ball-like central motive from which organic, mushroom-like shaped areas seem to radiate and twist in a counter-clockwise direction. It is actually the center blossom of a flower that radiates outwards to the end of the plate with two more rows of organic petal-forms much like lotus petals within which are painted alternating floral sprays of water hibiscus and "lingzhi," the sacred fungus or mushroom. The lingzhi is a pun for intelligence, a symbol of long life and, because it is similar in shape to the head of the ruyi, the wish-granting wand, it means "as you wish" or "may your wish be granted."
The following quote from Terese Tse Bartholomew is even more instructive:
"The lotus... is the flower of the sixth month, the flower of summer. It is the Asian symbol of purity because the flower emerges from the mud unstained. Buddhist and Hindu deities sit on thrones of lotis blossoms for this reason.
The different parts of the lotus bear auspicious meanings. The flower, known variously as hehua or lianhua, symbolizes marriage in addition to purity. He is a pun for "harmony" (he), and lian a pun for "continuous" or "successive," as in "the continuous birth of illustrious sons." The lotus is one of the few plants whose seedpod is already evident when the flower begins to bloom. To the Chinese, this excellent omen augurs the early arrival of sons. The seedpod (lianfang or lianpeng) bursting with seeds symbolizes fertility. The lotus rhizome (ou)is a homophonous with "married couple." The lotus leaf (heye), like the blossom, is a pun for "harmony."
Among the lotus's many names is "water hibiscus"(shuifurong), whose second character is a pun for "wealth" (fu). It is also known as qinglian, a pun for "incorruptible' (qinglian) officials. Zhou Dunyi notes in his essay Harmony and Unity (Ailian shou) that the lotus is said to be "the gentleman among flowers."
In conclusion, the symbolism on this dish makes it likely that it was used as a marriage gift with the meaning "may this couple have a harmonious, pure and prosperous marriage with an early and continuous succession of intelligent,illustrious and wealthy official-sons who are granted long life."