Jar. China, Shanxi or Henan Province; Ming period (1368-1644), late 15th century (probably Hongzhi era, 1488 - 1505)
Stoneware with trailed slip under glaze and overglaze enamels (Jingdezhen ware). Stoneware with trailed slip under glaze and overglaze enamels (Jingdezhen ware). Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art. 1979.178
The liveliness and sense of movement seen in the decoration of a phoenix and scrolling lotus flowers on this fahua jar that can be dated to the 15th century typifies the decoration that would become popular at Jingdezhen in the following century. Loosely translated as "ruled" or "bound design," the term fahua is often understood to refer to a technique in which primary motifs were outlined with slip and then filled with overglaze enamels, requiring two firings. However, it is also possible that fahua refers to the term falang, the Chinese word for the cloisonné technique that inspired this type of ceramic decoration. Wares such as this were used primarily as sculptures and altar vessels in temples and funerary complexes. The phoenix, which in the early part of the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644) was often used as a symbol for the empress, is also a symbol of rebirth in Buddhism. Here, the combination of the phoenix and the lotus (a symbol of purity in Buddhist art) indicate that this jar was probably used in a Buddhist temple.
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