Chinese Blue and White Kraak Lobed Bowl, Wanli (1573 – 1619)
Chinese blue and white kraak lobed bowl, Wanli (1573 – 1619), with bracketed rim, decorated to the body with eight panels containing deer in a bamboo grove, the interior with eight further panels containing floral sprays and a central roundel with a deer amongst shrubbery in the moonlight.
Diameter: 14.5cm (5 11/16in.)
Two harlines (one with associated chip), small frits to rim
A bowl of similar design can be found in the collection of the Ardebil Shrine, Tehran, and is illustrated in Rinaldi, Maura ‘Kraak Porcelain: A Moment in the History of Trade’ London: 1989 p.139 (pl.156). The curious round forms around the deer may have initially represented rockwork in early porcelain design, but over time gradually developed into this abstract form which strongly resembles the Wheel of Law. The Buddhist Wheel of Law, sometimes also referred to as the Wheel of Truth is thought to crush delusions and superstitions, and is often used in conjunction with deer in ceramic design as well as other visual art forms. This is because it was in the Deer Park at Sarnath where the Siddhartha Gautama is believed to have given his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, and where he began the ‘turning of the Dharma wheel’, with eight spokes to represent the Noble Eightfold Path. This bowl is thus rich in the symbolism of Buddhist learning, with the eight panels containing deer representing each step of the Eightfold Path we need to take to lead a happy, peaceful life and to ultimately attain enlightenment.