Archive item - not for sale
Chinese famille verte dish, Kangxi (1662-1722), decorated to the centre with a scene taken from the Romance of the Western Chamber, with a service being conducted inside a temple before a table laid with scholarly accoutrements while a young monk is distracted by a beautiful lady in the rocky garden outside, the rim with six ogee-shaped cartouches containing beribboned scholarly objects including scrolls, a ruyi-head sceptre and fan (representing delicacy of feeling), against stippled floral-cell ground
three hairlines, two chips, two small frits two of the hairlines are about 6 cm and one faint hairline 1.5 cm
The dish depicts a scene from the Romance of the Western Chamber in which a service is held at the Pujiu Temple near the Tang capital Chang’an for Yingying’s late father, a minister of the Tang dynasty. However, her bewitching beauty distracts the young monks to the extent that they forget their duties. In the original story, even the abbot himself eventually becomes distracted and strikes the head of a young novice, mistaking it for a ritual drum. The basic narrative of the young scholar Zhang Sheng and Yingying’s love affair had been a popular poetic subject throughout the Tang and Song dynasties, before being adapted for the stage in the Yuan (1271-1368). The play was then expanded by Yuan playwright Wang Shifu, and it is his enriched adaption of the romance that became the standard version. The play itself, though incredibly popular, was banned from the stage at various points during the Ming and Qing dynasties due to its suggestive descriptions and controversial perspectives. Visual depictions of scenes from the story were also very popular within ceramic and woodblock print design. Kangxi ceramic artists often used older illustrations of the play as source material; the elevated angle from which the viewer looks down at the scene on this plate, for example, is a typical device employed by narrative painters of the Song (960-1279).