Porcelain bowl with Xiwangmu

From Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, southern China
Ming dynasty, Yongle period (AD 1401-24)

A Daoist goddess

Xiwangmu, the Queen Mother of the West, is an important figure in Daoism. She lived in the Kunlun Mountains, in an enchanted palace with beautiful pagodas and a magical garden. Among her plants was the famous tree with peaches of longevity. Though they ripen only once in 3000 years, they bestow immortality. A kind of jade plant also grew there, which also conferred everlasting life.

The scene on this bowl shows Xiwangmu as she is usually portrayed in paintings, a beautiful woman in her garden, with her two maids, one holding a large fan, the other with a basket of magic peaches. Xiwangmu is often shown riding on a crane and sometimes with doves, her messengers.

The underglaze blue painting is clear and beautifully detailed. The inside of the bowl is completely undecorated, so the pure, translucent porcelain characteristic of the Yongle period is shown to great effect. Most Yongle wares were plain white.

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More information

Bibliography

J. Harrison-Hall, Ming ceramics (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)

S.J. Vainker, Chinese pottery and porcelain, (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

Dimensions

Diameter: 19.300 cm
Height: 5.500 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1968.4-22.30

RRC14679

Bequeathed by Mrs Walter Sedgwick

Location

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