A blue and white Ko-sometsuke dish

Tianqi, 1621-1627

The shallow dish is painted in the interior in underglaze blue with seven Daoist immortals and Shoulao, who is depicted in the centre holding a ruyi scepter, all below two pine trees in a rocky landscape. The everted rim is decorated with a border of roundels, each enclosing three leaves in reserve. The underside is painted with five groups of small lozenges surrounded by four dots. The recessed base is covered with transparent glaze.

21.2 cm diameter



Formerly in a Dutch private collection

Shoulao is known as the Chinese God of Longevity and characterized by his long forehead and a variety of longevity-related symbols, in this case the ruyi-scepter. From the other immortals depicted on this dish, at least four are recognizable by the attributes they are holding, namely Han Xiangzi with the flute, Lan Caihe with the hoe, Cao Guojiu with jade clappers, and Zhongli Quan with a peach.

A similar, but less refined dish is illustrated by Kawahara and two other examples appeared at auction. Shoulao and the eight Daoist immortals can be found on a group of large bowls and dishes from the Shunzhi period, probably made for the domestic market. The roundels on the rim are a decorative motif typically found on wares for the Japanese market and can also be seen on dishes with different subjects, including one with a four-character Tianqi mark, illustrated by Marchant.

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