Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Min yao Plate
Porcellaneous stoneware, painted decoration in underglaze blue and overglaze red enamel
4.2 cm (h.), 22.4 cm (diam.)
Gift of Zhang Zhimei, inv. 2010.1007
Archeology and World Cultures
This bold design of a carp leaping from the water refers to a well-known Chinese folk tale in which a carp, swimming upstream in the Yellow River, passes through a fierce waterfall known as the Dragon’s Gate and turns into a dragon. The tale became a metaphor for humble scholars who passed their civil service exams and became high officials. The leaping carp is therefore a symbol of academic success. As opposed to the official wares produced for the court in the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen, plates like this one were made at local kilns. Free from imperial guidelines, local potters developed innovative, colourful and lively designs in response to popular demand. Vessels from the provincial kilns of Guangzhou and Fujian were made for both the domestic market and export to Southeast Asia and the Americas.