While crane and pine are auspicious symbols respectively, it is believed that when depicted together the potency of the image is increased. Both represent longevity: pine is an evergreen tree that continues to flourish through the lean winter months, and the crane, which can also stand for peace, is a bird associated with Daoist belief, thought to live for thousands of years and act as messenger between the earthly and heavenly realms.
After the death of the Wanli emperor in 1620, growing unrest in China resulted in a tumultuous period during which the Manchu gained power. At this time, the decline of official imperial patronage within the ceramics industry resulted in innovation in design and diversification of markets. Ko-sometsuke wares (literally ‘old blue and white’ in Japanese) were produced during the Tianqi (J: 天啓 tenkei) specifically for the Japanese market, and so catered to Japanese tastes in terms of form and decoration. The spontaneous pine and crane motif of this dish would have held appeal, as would the large amount of undecorated porcelain body left by the sparse design and the kiln grit that adheres to the footrim.