Blue and White Kraak Plate, Wanli (1573-1619)
Chinese blue and white Kraak plate, Wanli (1573-1619), decorated to the central roundel with two pheasants amongst stylised flower heads and rockwork, the rim with interlocking chain of pomegranates alternating with flower heads
Diameter: 20.3 cm. (8 in.)
Some minute fritting to rim and foot rim pierced for hanging.
While the lotus is an ancient Buddhist symbol of truth, purity and enlightenment used in Chinese designs for centuries, the tulip was a motif that was common on porcelain made specifically for Dutch markets. The flower had become immensely popular in Europe, following its introduction in the 1590s by Carolus Clusius, head of the Leiden botanical garden. He received the very first bulbs from the Ambassador to Constantinople, where the Turks had been cultivating the flowers for over a thousand years. This plate, made around the time of ‘tulip mania’ in the Netherlands, represents the transmission of artistic motifs and products which defined the inter-cultural exchanges between China, the Middle East and Europe at this time.