Similar in technique to the later Wucai style, the Doucai porcelain style began during the reign of Ming dynasty Emperor Xuande in the fifteenth century and most of the Doucai pieces were made at the Imperial kilns in the southern Chinese city of Jingdezhen.
Translated as ‘contrasted colours’, ‘fitted colours’, ‘dove-tailed colours’ or ‘colours that fit together’, Doucai porcelain is made by painting designs onto the pieces in an underglaze blue and then firing them at a temperature of approximately 1100°C. Then the vessel was fired a second time once the entirety of the design was added in differing colours of overglaze enamel at a lower temperature of around 850-900°C.
The zenith of Doucai production came in a few short years during the reign of Ming dynasty Emperor Chenghua (1464 – 1487). They were mainly smaller vessels including the famous Chicken cups, small Doucai porcelain bowls commissioned by Chenghua adorned with chickens, hens and cocks as an act of devotion for his mother who valued small, delicate pieces of Doucai porcelain with simple designs.
A Chinese imperial porcelain doucai deep dish of ogee form, finely painted on the interior with the eight attributes of the Daoist immortals, anbaxian, each ribbon-tied in blue enamel, ruby enamel, yellow and iron red, amongst flower sprays, and within two pairs of underglaze blue rings, encircling a central mallow flowerhead, itself within an inter-linked profile branch of pendant, peaches and chrysanthemum, the underside with eight elaborate flowerheads painted in pairs on a dense floral ground with leaves in different tones of green and buds, all above a lappet and ruyi-head border.