Since the Jiajing Emperor was a keen supporter of Daoist ideas, Daoist motifs proliferate in this period. The combination seen here, of imperial five-clawed dragons with Daoist motifs – cranes as a symbol of long life – is, however, most unusual. Two-colour glaze combinations are also characteristic of the Jiajing reign, but red pieces with designs reserved in yellow are more common than yellow vessels with red decoration, and the combination with underglaze blue is also exceptional.
Compare a small bowl of Jiajing mark and period from the George Eumorfopoulos collection, now in the British Museum, London, painted in a similar colour combination with a dragon on the inside and boys in a garden setting on the outside, published in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, no. 9:91, together with an oblong Jiajing box from the Oscar Raphael collection, painted with cranes and trigrams in red on yellow, no. 9:92.
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