Important Chinese Art

Important Chinese Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 202. A blue and white 'dragon' dish, Mark and period of Zhengde | 明正德 青花穿蓮龍紋盤 《正德年製》款.

Property from the Collection of Albert Y.P. and Sara K.S. Lee

A blue and white 'dragon' dish, Mark and period of Zhengde | 明正德 青花穿蓮龍紋盤 《正德年製》款

Auction Closed

September 21, 06:54 PM GMT


100,000 - 150,000 USD

Lot Details


A blue and white 'dragon' dish

Mark and period of Zhengde

明正德 青花穿蓮龍紋盤 《正德年製》款

the base with a four-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle

Diameter 9½ in., 24.2 cm

Christie's London, 6th June 1994, lot 117.


The design of five-clawed dragons among dense lotus scrolls is perhaps the most characteristic pattern of the Zhengde period (1506-21) and appears on dishes, bowls and jars of zhadou shape. Although the dragon-and-lotus design was popular throughout the Ming period, this dense and even distribution of the decorative elements, and the soft tone of cobalt blue, are particular to the Zhengde period.

The design may be based on a Xuande prototype, although no exact counterpart is known. For the most closely related Xuande design, compare a dish centered with two dragons facing forward among peony scrolls, or one with very similar dragons among lotus scrolls, both illustrated in Mingdai Xuande guanyao jinghua tezhan tulu / Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsüan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1998, cat. nos 188-189; an example of the latter design was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 4th April 2012, lot 3156. Compare also a Chenghua mark and period blue and white dragon dish from the Sir Percival David Collection in the British Museum, London, which represents a much more loosely composed forerunner to this design, illustrated in in Oriental Ceramics: The World’s Great Collections,  vol. 6, Tokyo, New York, and San Francisco, 1980, col. pl. 32.

On Zhengde dishes of this type, there are two variations in the placement of the dragons on the cavetto, which are oriented either vertically or, as is the present case, horizontally. The present dish also represents the larger dimension of the variations. Two similarly large dishes are in the British Museum, London, one with the dragons arranged as on the present dish, both illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, pls 8:15 and 16. Another dish similar to the present piece in the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, is published in Lu Minghua, Shanghai Bowuguan cangpin yanjiu daxi / Studies of the Shanghai Museum Collections: A Series of Monographs. Mingdai guanyao ciqi [Ming imperial porcelain], Shanghai, 2007, pl. 3-78. A dish of similar design but slightly smaller in size in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (II), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2000, pl. 63. Another example, from the Eumorfopoulos Collection, illustrated in R.L. Hobson, The George Eumorfopoulos Collection of Chinese, Corean and Persian Pottery and Porcelain, London, 1925-8, vol. IV, pl. VII, no. D 18, was sold in our London rooms, 29th May 1940, lot 211.  For recently sold examples, see two similar dishes of slightly smaller dimension, the first, previously sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 28th October 1992, lot 41; Christie's Hong Kong, 3th December 2008, lot 2542 and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30th November 2011, lot 2979 and another sold in these rooms, 11th September 2019, lot 679. Such was the fame of these dishes that an example is illustrated in the sixth scroll of the Guwan tu (Pictures of Ancient Playthings) depicting treasured artifacts of the Yongzheng Emperor, now in the Percival David Collection at the British Museum, London.

zhadou, a dish, and three different bowls with similar dragon motifs are in the Palace Museum, Beijing, see op. cit., pls 57, 63 and 69-71, one of the bowls with the Zhengde reign mark replaced by a mark in Phags-pa script. A matching zhadou also in the Meiyintang Collection, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 2, pl. 686, was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th April 2011, lot 60.