Large Swatow deep circular dish painted in turquoise, black and iron-red enamels with a large central scene of the ‘split pagoda’, with mountains in the distance, figures crossing a bridge and boats, all above three pagodas on rockwork, surrounded by four ruyi-head flaming medallions of fisherman, two with figures crossing a bridge, one with a fishing boat with one of the fisherman holding a net and the other with a boat in a river scene, between four four-character iron-red seals within a double square, the underside plain, the base and foot rim with sand grit.
Pinghe County, Zhangzhou prefecture, Fujian province.
Ming dynasty, circa 1600.
• Formerly in a Japanese private collection.
• A similar dish, from the Franks collection, no. OA F. 486, is included by Jessica Harrison-Hall in Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, 2001, no. 11:164, p. 338; two others of this design are illustrated by Yoneyama Torataro in The Seikado Bunko Art Museum catalogue of Swatow Wares of the Seikado Collection, nos. 54 and 55, p. 57. A further example is included by Tohru Toguri in Chinese Ceramics in the Toguri Collection, 1988, no. 136, p. 112.
• Jessica Harrison-Hall notes “the ‘split pagoda’ design has provoked much discussion. It shows a three-storied pagoda parting to reveal a root which connects forested mountains to an island with three tall buildings. It has been suggested that the design is copied from a Ming map, possibly of Jingdezhen. While this is possible, it is unlikely, as Jingdezhen is not where the dish was made. Shards from this type of dish have been excavated in Pinghe County in Fujian province.”
• On the finest Swatow wares the glaze is transparent and is a light colour rather than grey.