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Group of Chinese Ming Dynasty Shipwreck Porcelains

Far East, China, found in the Philippines, ca. 16th century CE. This is a group of porcelain from a a Ming period Chinese shipwreck off the coast of Busuanga, Philippines. It contains a large porcelain platter with a blue on white orchid design and two bowls with blue and white floral motifs on the interiors and exteriors. There are also Sanskrit characters on the bowl, which would have been a symbol of Buddhism. These were found in 1997. Ming Dynasty China (1368 to 1644) is known as one of the longest periods of social and and governmental stability in human history. During this time period, China's was the great naval power of the East, with technology that surpassed anything that Europe had yet developed; this was the time of Zheng He and China's role as an international trader from the Mediterranean to the south Pacific. As the Ming period progressed, and the political conditions that had held the overland Silk Route together deteriorated, a Maritime Silk Road became more important to Chinese trade. Interestingly, many of the elements of these porcelains -- which would have been produced in China, under the control of the Imperial Court maintained Bureau of Design that ensured uniform standards in the production of ceramics -- had been inspired by Islamic art from further west trading opportunities. These come with two beautiful wooden stands for the small bowls. Size: Platter is 12-1/2" diameter x 2-1/2" H (32 cm x 6 cm); bowls are 5-3/4" diameter x 3" H (15 cm x 8 cm). Published in Arts of Asia, Volume 28, Number 3, May/June 1998: 76-88.

Condition: There are only tiny chips and cracks on these pieces; although the blue is slightly faded from centuries under the sea, the designs are very clear. There is a slight patina and the markings where barnacles were in small places, but this adds to the authenticity of the pieces.

Provenance: Ex-private Northern Colorado collection, ex-Orientations Gallery, San Francisco, under the authority of the National Art Museum of the Philippines.

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