Literally translating as "Prunus Vase", the Chinese Pottery form known as the Meiping is said to have been inspired by the shape of the female body. The Meiping Vase was made to resemble human features, most notably, a small mouth, a short narrow neck, a plump bosom and a thin, concave mid-section. The Meiping Vase was designed to hold a single branch of plum blossoms.
Mythical Sea Dragon Meiping
Chenghua mark (1465-1487)
Item # CIP-530
Height w/ Lid: 22.86 cm;
Height w/o Lid: 20.32 cm;
Width of mouth: 3.43 cm;
Width of foot: 6.98 cm.
Provenance: Elmira estate
Decoration: On exterior, six Sea Dragons, four on the body and two on the lid, fly over crested waves. Four Lotus Flower Lappets occupy the space formerly filled with Mountains in the Xuande example of this design. Entire design surmounted by four Phoenix filled Lappets crowned by scrolling vine design. Double lines at neck, above shoulder and above foot.
On lid, two Sea Dragons flying over crested waves surmounted by eight lotus panels terminating at knob. Double line around shoulder and at flaring lip.
Technique: Dragon, Lines and Lotus Flower and Phoenix Lappets painted with cobalt oxide pigment under transparent glaze; waves painted with red enamel over transparent glaze.
Mark: Six characters in two columns inside double circle on base written with cobalt oxide pigment under transparent glaze.
Finely trimmed foot rim.
This Particular Chinese Porcelain motif first appears in the Xuande Period ( 1426-1435 ). The Xuande Period is on of grand historical significance for China in general and the Xuande Emperor in particular. China has become the supreme Diplomatic and Sea Power in the World and it is this occurrence that this Porcelain design commemorates.
During the Xuande Period, the wave patterns of this design are very free flowing across the surface of the porcelain vessel with mountains rising out of the sea at the base, and the Flying Sea Creatures lack a rigidity of design found in latter versions of the motif.
By the Chenhua Period (1465-1487), The Wave pattern has become very rigid and formalized and the Mountains have all but vanished from the Motif, though the Flying Sea Creatures still retain the less formal design found in the early Xuande Period examples.
By the Qing Dynasty, most notably the Yongzheng and Qianlong Periods; ( 1723-1735) and (1736-1795) respectively you see this Porcelain Motif in it's final form with highly prescribed forms for the Flying Sea Creature decoration as well as the continued rigidly prescribed wave decoration. Also in this period you find this Porcelain Decoration motif occurring more often in under glaze blue not the traditional over glaze red.
1) Xuande Mark and period Stem Cup from the Tianminlou Foundation
(Original Motif), Joined Colors Exhibition Catalogue pg.81, no. 10.
2) Xuande mark and period Stem Cup, (Original Motif). Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, p. 128, no. 4:13.
3) Xuande mark and period Stem Cup, (Original Motif). From the Love Collection, Sold at Christie's, sale 1551, no.251.
4) Wanli Mark and Period Stem Cup, first known example of blue wave pattern. From the Garner Collection, sold at Christie's, sale 1408, no. 255.
5) Kangxi mark and period Dish, The Tianminlou Foundation, Joined Colors Exhibition Catalogue pg.82, no.11.
6) Qianlong mark and period Dish. Sold at Christie's, sale 2297, no.1377.