Large porcelain meiping vase with underglaze blue decoration. This large heavily potted meiping has a short narrow neck with a flaring mouth and thickened rim. Its sides taper in from broad shoulders and it is supported by a broad foot ring, inside which the unglazed base is recessed. Boldly painted in a dark cobalt blue, it shows a four-clawed, one-horned dragon clenching a 'lingzhi' fungus in its jaws. This undulating dragon's sinewy body and flowing mane are striped rather than covered in scales and it has a foliage tail. Below is a border of tall lappets with 'ruyi-style' heads and above the identical border is inverted. A horizontal six-character Wanli reign mark is written from right to left above the dragon's head.
- Made in: Jingdezhen
- (Asia,China,Jiangxi (province),Jingdezhen)
- Found/Acquired: China
- Height: 52 centimetres
- Diameter: 24 centimetres
Inscription Positionbody (above the dragon's head)
Inscription TransliterationDa Ming Wanli Nian Zhi
Inscription TranslationMade in the Wanli reign of the Ming dynasty
Inscription CommentHorizontal six-character Wanli reign mark written from right to left.
Recent excavations at the imperial Xuande (1425-36) kiln site at Jingdezhen have revealed the prototype for this style of meiping. Made to the same scale and with only minor variations in the design, the Wanli meiping lacks energy by comparison to the Xuande original. The blue is much more uniform and the lappets are simplified. Numerous late Ming porcelains were made in deliberately archaistic styles. Fifteenth-century designs were much admired and imitated. Other identical Wanli pieces are, for example, in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, the Lee Kong Chian Art Museum, National University of Singapore, and the Kunstindustrimuseet, Copenhagen. Meiping with phoenix instead of the dragon were also made and an example is in the Idemitsu Museum, Tokyo.
Eight blue-and-white meiping of this form, still with their covers, were discovered in the Wanli emperor's tomb, the Ding Ling. They were among the relatively few porcelains discovered there when the tomb was investigated. Meiping are one of the most common forms found in grand Ming burials.
2009 24 Jan-19 Apr, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, 'China: Journey to the East'
2009 2 May-19 Jul, Coventry, The Herbert, 'China: Journey to the East'
2009 1 Aug-1 Dec, Basingstoke, The Willis Museum, 'China: Journey to the East'
2010 29 Jan-9 May, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear Museums, 'China: Journey to the East'
2010 22 May-15 Aug, York, Yorkshire Museums Trust, 'China: Journey to the East'
2010-2011 25 Sep-26 Jun, Manchester Museum, 'China: Journey to the East'
2011 Jun - 2012 Jan, Museum of Croydon
Porcelain meiping with underglaze blue decoration. It shows a four-clawed, one-horned dragon clenching a lingzhi fungus in its jaws. Below is a border of lappets with ruyi-style heads and above the identical border is inverted. A six-character Wanli reign mark is written above the dragon's head.
If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Object reference number: RRC15228
British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.
The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.