Chinese porcelain blue and white and underglaze copper-red large deep saucer dish with gently flared rim, painted in the centre with a crab encircled by four carp and a mandarin carp, with shrimp and shell amongst a shoal of copper-red fish and guppies, with aquatic plants, arrow heads, leaves and roe, all within a single underglaze blue line, the underside and base glazed white with a wide channel foot rim.

13 7/8 inches, 35.2 cm diameter.

Kangxi period, circa 1680.


Some natural shrinkage on rim.

Provenance & Additional Information

  • Formerly in a Dutch private family collection.
  • Sold by Christie’s Amsterdam in their auction of Asian Ceramics and Works of Art, 10th May 2000, lot 60, p. 21.
  • Exhibited at the Palm Beach International Art and Antique Fair, 2002.
  • Sold by Imperial Oriental Art, New York, 2002.
  • Formerly in the collection of Jeffrey P. Stamen, The Jie Rui Tang Collection, no. 286.
  • Included by Jeffrey P. Stamen and Cynthia Volk with Yibin Ni in A Culture Revealed: Kangxi-Era Chinese Porcelain from The Jie Rui Tang Collection, no. 68, p. 171, where the authors note, “This dish conveys multiple wishes for scholarly success. A single crab signifies the rebus yijia yiming or ‘may you come in first in the palace examination.’ Xie, crab, signifies harmony and jia, the shell, also means ‘first.’ The central crab is encircled by different types of fish swimming through waterweed, forming the pun rebus qingbai lijie, or ‘pure and incorruptible.’ The two leaping carp are a reference to the legendary and challenging journey to surmount the waterfalls and pass through the Longmen gate and thus be transformed into a dragon, a metaphor long associated with the tenacity required of the aspiring scholar to pass the examinations.”
  • Sold by Sotheby’s New York in their auction of Kangxi: The Jie Rui Tang Collection, 20th March 2018, lot 381, p. 119.
  • Another similar dish with a channelled foot rim and celadon glaze on the underside is illustrated by Teresa Canepa and Katharine Butler in Leaping the Dragon Gate, inventory no. 1562, p. 432.
  • A similar dish without the copper-red decoration is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, collection no. CIRC.289-1931; a related dish with two carp and three shrimp was included by Marchant in their exhibition of Selected Chinese Porcelain from the Collection of Professor D.R. Laurence, 2010, no. 19, pp. 34/5; and another bearing a Kangxi reign mark was included by Spink in their exhibition of Chinese Blue and White Porcelain from the Pullan Collection, 1998, no. 33, pp. 28/9.