The present dish is a fine example of the technical developments achieved by potters during the early Ming dynasty. Yongle porcelain is generally characterised by the inky cobalt blue, which fired to a dark, deep blue in parts and pale blue in others. The silvery-black and crystal-like separation of the cobalt is known as the 'heaped and piled' effect and the intensity of tones was heightened by the finely-potted white body of the porcelain clay.
One of the most striking decorative innovations of early fifteenth-century wares was the use of separate floral sprays in the cavettos instead of the continuous scroll. The heavy wreath of lotus or peony found on 14th century dishes gave way to a series of delicate and more varied motifs. Two sets of six flower sprays were commonly repeated so that each pair of flowers sat diagonally opposite each other.
A closely related dish in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, was included in the Special Exhibition of Early Ming Period Porcelain, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1982, cat. no. 37; one in the National Museum of China is published in Zhongguo Guojia Bowuguan guancang wenwu yanjiu congshu. Ciqi juan, Mingdai, Shanghai, 2007, pl. 20; another in the British Museum, London, is illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics, London, 2001, pl. 3:35; and a fourth example, published in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 2, London, 1994, pl. 663, was sold in these rooms, 8th April 2013, lot 20. Three further dishes from the Ardabil Shrine in the National Museum of Iran, Tehran, are included in John Alexander Pope, Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine, Washington, D.C., 1956, pl. 35; and a dish in the British Museum is shown next to a related pottery copy from Iznik in Turkey in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Ornament. The Lotus and the Dragon, London, 1984, pl. 163. See also a dish of this type attributed to the Xuande period, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Gugong Bowuyuan cang Ming chu qinghua ci, vol. 1, Beijing, 2002, pl. 134.
Although examples of this exact design have not been recorded from the excavations of the Ming imperial kiln site, similar large dishes of this form, painted with related designs, have come to light in the Yongle stratum of the site; see, for example, the dish included in the exhibition Yongle Imperial Porcelain Excavated at Zhushan, Jingdezhen, Capital Museum, Beijing, 2007, cat. no. 68.