The Carp motif has long been a staple of the porcelain decoration landscape in China. Fish symbolize abundance, the Chinese word for fish (yu) sounds like a word that means "surplus" or "excess". The word for carp (li) sounds like the word for "profit" and is also a symbol of scholarly success.
This Carp vase is an excellent example of Doucai porcelain decoration at the height of the Wanli period.
Ming Dynasty, Wanli mark and period (1573-1620)
Item # CIP-432
Height: 26 cm;
Width of mouth: 3cm;
Width of base 7.2 cm.
Provenance: Washington DC Estate
Decoration: Six Carp swimming among water weeds, separated by double line top and bottom. Band of Lotus panels around bottom, scrolling lotus around top surmounted by up-turned pendant leaves.
Technique: Some motifs outlined with cobalt oxide pigment, filled with cobalt wash, under transparent glaze; remaining motifs outlined with red enamel or black pigment, filled with red, yellow, and green enamels, over transparent glaze. Wucai.
Mark: Six characters in single line around shoulder of vase written with cobalt oxide pigment under transparent glaze.
Unglazed foot with Kiln grit, indicative of manufacture at a Private Kiln under contract to the Imperial Court.