A small blue and white bowl
Kangxi period (1662-1722)
The shallow bowl with spreading sides is painted around the exterior with the eight Buddhist symbols above an interlocking ruyi design around the foot. The interior is painted on the domed centre with a medallion enclosing eight ruyi heads and a band of lotus heads amidst foliage at the rim. The concave base is inscribed with a six-character Jiajing mark.
11.5 cm diameter
A Dutch private collection
This fine bowl with subtle outlined decoration has a recessed base and prominent domed centre, and is also known as ‘bun-shaped centre’ bowl, mantouxin. The shape is derived from early Ming examples. A bowl of similar shape dating from the Yongle period (1403-1424) with Arabic script is in the National Palace Museum.
A Xuande (1426-1435) example of the same form and comparable decoration is illustrated in the Meiyintang Collection.
The cluster of eight ruyi heads in the centre is symbolic of all sorts of wishes, such as blessings, wealth, rank and longevity, as it resembles the sacred fungus, lingzhi. The Eight Buddhist Symbols, ba jixiang, originated in India and came to China with the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). They comprise the Wheel, Conch-shell, Vase, Umbrella, Fish, Mystic Knot, Lotus and Canopy. During the 17th century they became integrated with Daoist symbols, sharing the same meaning of longevity.