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Stem Cup

Mid- to late 15th century (probably Chenghua era, 1465-1487)

Jiangxi Province, China

Porcelain painted with underglaze cobalt blue and overglaze red enamel (Jingdezhen ware)

H. 4 x Diam. 6 1/8 in. (10.2 x 15.6 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.176

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The flying-fish dragon motif that appears on this stem cup, along with other decoration that includes winged fish, elephants, horses, and deer, are found on ceramics bearing reign marks of the Xuande (1426 - 1435), Chenghua (1465 - 1487), and Wanli (1573 - 1620) eras, providing a 15th-century date for the development of this theme. The appearance of this type of motif has also been linked to renewed interest during the Chenghua era in the Classic of the Seas and Mountains (Shanhai Jing), that can be traced back in some form to the Eastern Zhou period (771 - 221 B.C.E.). Many of the animals depicted can be identified by reference to this source. For example, it mentions both celestial horses and flying fish.