Sixteen monochrome yellow wares represent the usual types of bowls and dishes from the reigns of Hung-chih, Cheng-te, Chia-ching, and Wan-li. All but one are marked, and this is a dish with foliate rim and the sides molded in the shape of lotus panels; on the poorly glazed gravelly base is a fruit spray mark in underglaze blue. The piece resembles the poorest kraakporselein in quality and is no doubt late sixteenth century. The Chia-ching marks on two dishes are very poorly written and may possibly be Wan-li copies (29.731-732).
No attempt was made to assign dates to a bowl and a dish with coffee-brown glazes and no marks (29.743-744, not illustrated).
Among the five blue pieces is an unmarked bowl for which any one of several periods might answer. A bottle with a 5-clawed dragon incised in the paste under the blue glaze (29.746, not illustrated) is marked Hsüan-te in six characters and may be assigned to the second half of the sixteenth century; and the same date applies to two damaged blue ewers with buff-colored biscuit designs on the sides (29.745, 771, not illustrated). Most remarkable of the blue wares is 29.747 (pl. 119), a large dish with foliate rim; the glaze is thick dark blue with a slightly mat surface, and in the center is a great 3-clawed dragon in white slip pursuing a flaming pearl. The scales and all details of the beast's anatomy are incised in the slip with fine lines; and the three long thin curving claws on each foot, the narrow snout, and the slender body are all in the fourteenth-century manner.308 Further confirming this attribution is the base of the dish where the unglazed surface reveals the type of paste appropriate to the period, and the inner edge of the strongly made foot curves gently down to the flat central area. Unusual as it is, this dish does not stand alone. A mei-p'ing from what may have been the same set is in the Grandidier Collection in Paris (pl. 138, B), and saucer dishes decorated with related dragons are known.309
Perhaps the most surprising piece in the whole collection, though certainly not the most beautiful, is that shown on plate 120. Made of brownish-gray stoneware, it is modeled in the form of a recumbent cat; on its back rises a cylindrical tube with a____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine. Contributors: John Alexander Pope - Author. Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Freer Gallery of Art. Place of publication: Washington, DC. Publication year: 1956. Page number: 151.
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