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Dish, Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century. Porcelain with blue decor under clear glaze; 2 1/2 x 12 3/8 in. (6.35 x 31.43 cm). Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton 99.121.3. Minneapolis Institute of Arts © 2014 Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Early Ming blue-and-white porcelain ranks among some of the most beautiful wares in all of China's ceramic history. This classic early 15th century example displays the so-called "lotus bouquet" motif in its center. The informal, asymmetrical arrangement of the central bouquet and the generally naturalistic treatment of the flowers here mark a stylistic break from the more formal fourteenth century style shown above.

The center is vividly decorated with a bouquet of lotus in bud and full bloom together with leaves on slender stems, seed pods, an arrowhead leaf, millet stem, and thin, rush leaves tied together with a swirling ribbon. The border is decorated with two chrysanthemums, two lotus, two roses, two peonies, a pomegranate flower, two hibiscus and two camellias. All these flowers held auspicious connotations for the Chinese.