Rarely employed, the colour scheme of the present piece may have been specific to the Jiajing reign, during which its auspicious significance was fully appreciated by the emperor. It was most likely its onerous production method that precluded a more widespread use: not only were three firings – one for the clear-glazed porcelain, one for the yellow overglaze enamel, and a third for the design-bearing iron-red enamel – necessary, the difficulty of even-handedly applying the red around the designs in yellow must have contributed to an exceptionally high rate of failure.
The small size of this present piece is also noted for its rarity among heirlooms of a similar type.
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