Chinese / Platter / Yuan period, late 14th-early 15th centuryChinese
Yuan period, late 14th-early 15th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
Title: Platter
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1367
Creation End Date: 1433
Creation Date: Yuan period, late 14th-early 15th century
Creation Place: China, Jiangxi Province
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Porcelain with glaze (Jingdezhen ware)
Dimensions: H. 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm); D. 17 3/8 in. (44.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.150
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The history of the Chinese ceramic industry from the late 13th to the early 15th century is one of constant innovation in both technology and taste. Unlike the earlier Song period, during which a wide range of types was produced in kilns throughout China, during the Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties, most ceramics were produced at the Jingdezhen kiln complexes located in Jiangxi Province. Some of the earliest porcelain in the world was manufactured at this complex. The Jingdezhen kilns produced wares for both domestic and export markets, especially Iran, Turkey, and India.

This large glazed porcelain platter from the Yuan period is inscribed with the name of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1627-1658). Although this platter has no decoration, it has been suggested that a gold pigment may once have been painted over the glaze, as similar platters with this type of decoration are known. The large size of the platter also reflects its intended market: it was most likely used to serve food to a large group of people. This custom differs from the Chinese tradition, in which numerous smaller bowls and plates are offered individually to each person sharing a meal.

Several Chinese porcelains are known that are inscribed with the name of Shah Jahan, his predecessor Jahangir, and his successor Aurangzeb. Shah Jahan is famous for his patronage of the arts--in particular, the building of the Taj Mahal--and he is also known to have been a collector of ceramics. However, there are no extant imperial collections from either the Mughal or Rajput courts of India comparable to those found in Turkey and Iran, and much less is known about the nature of imperial collecting in India. References to Chinese porcelains found in imperial Mughal memoirs and European accounts of this court make it clear that Chinese porcelains were held in high regard, even depicted in Indian paintings. It is not clear why certain pieces such as this platter were inscribed.

It is possible that this platter had been in Shah Jahan's family for generations and that he had it engraved as a mark of ownership or lineage. Or the ceramic might have been a gift from his Persian or Turkish counterparts, and later inscribed to record Shah Jahan's appreciation of this rare and precious object.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 69.
Related Document Description: Das, Asok Kumar. 'Chinese Porcelain at the Mughal Court.' Silk Road Art and Archaeology 2 (1991-92), pp. 381-409.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.150
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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