BFE 15 A very unusual blue and white Ming bowl with 'bao' mark

Early Wanli period, 16th century, or earlier

The bowl has steeply rounded sides supported on a slightly tapered foot. It is painted on the outside in deep cobalt blue with a garden scene showing five elegant ladies dressed in long flowing cloaks over long robes. Four ladies are holding and reading a  book or letter, two closed and two unfolded. Each lady seems to sit against 'taihu' rocks of whimsical shape separated by leafy trees. The interior is painted with a central roundel showing a similar scene of one lady.  The base has an unusual  well pencil-drawn character 'bao' (treasure); gold lacquer repair
Diameter 19.6 cm

It is very rare to find a 'bao' mark on porcelain. The scene is also unusual showing ladies in this unusual position against the strange shape of the garden rocks.
The ladies are apparently one and the same person and the scene is probably taken from the classical romance 'The Western Chamber', showing  Cui Yingying reading a letter from her lover, the scholar Zhang Sheng


Ceramics > Early Ceramics