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Vase with "Hundred Deer" motif in wucai enamel, Wan-li reign (1573-1620), Ming dynasty

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Vase with "Hundred Deer" motif in wucai enamel
Wan-li reign (1573-1620), Ming dynasty
H. 34.6 cm;Diam. 20 cm;Diam. of base. 16.3 cm


This "hundred deer" vase has a slightly flared mouth, a short straight neck, sloping curved shoulders, a broad belly that is slightly tapered, and a flat base. Two blue lines encircle the rim, and the neck is decorated with alternating branched flower patterns and peach fruit patterns. The shoulders are adorned with blue and white cloud patterns, from which alternating brown and green banner patterns swing. The primary pattern encompassing the central area of the vessel consists of a herd of 89 deer painted in wucai, interspersed among rocks, grass, trees, and clouds. The base of the vessel is encircled by a ring of vibrant red and green patterns, likely intended to represent the earth. The unglazed body can be seen on the underside of the base, with glaze only applied to the central concave region, on which a blue and white inscription in standard script reads, "Da Ming Wan Li Nian Zhi (Made in the Wanli Reign of the great Ming Empire)." During the Wanli reign, production levels of porcelain increased dramatically, and the Ming court expended a large amount of funds upon this. Besides continuing with the production of classic porcelain wares from imperial kilns in previous reigns, innovations were made in form, patterns, and decorative techniques, and colored patterns became quite popular, of which wucai was the most representative. Motifs often included Buddhist and Taoist elements signifying auspiciousness or immortality. In the "Jiangxisheng dazhi (Great Chronicle of Jiangxi Province)," detailed specifications from the court regarding the form, amounts, and decorative elements of porcelain wares at the time can be found, and these can be used to evaluate the type and magnitude of production for official designs. The nineteenth year of the Wanli reign saw the most designs and greatest production levels, and the "Eternal world jar with "hundred deer" motif in wucai enamel" ordered to be produced in that year may have been similar to this work.


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