This object is eligible for a Certificate of BADA Provenance
Chinese famile verte charger, Kangxi (1662-1722), painted to the centre with a square panel containing a peony garden in full bloom, with insects and rockwork, the four radiating panels to the rim containing further floral designs representing the flowers of the four seasons with birds, insects and rockwork, all against a green cell-pattern ground with dragons, lotus heads and peony, the reverse with scrolling lotus design and Artemisia leaf to the base, diameter: 37.5cm. (14 3/4in.), condition: fritting and chips to rim. Peonies were grown in China for their medicinal properties long before they were cultivated for ornamental purpose, and the Chinese characters for peony (‘mu-dan’) can translate to ‘medicine’ and ‘healing’. The peony is particularly rich in symbolism, and the male vermillion peony is known as the ‘King of Flowers’ (huawang), representing aristocracy. The scene depicted on this plate, with several colours seen in full bloom but the vermillion peonies closed in tight buds may refer to the fable of ‘The Fabulous Peony’, according to which the vain Empress Wu Zeitan ordered all flowers in the Imperial garden to bloom overnight in winter, warning that those which did not would be punished. While all other flowers submitted and bloomed to please her, the Vermillion Peony, senior member of the garden, refused to obey.