Arts and Culture
The Wanli period (1572-1620) of the Ming dynasty in China saw the emergence of a highly stylized pattern of porcelain. This pattern combines an image that depicts the famous Chinese scholar Su Shi (1037-1101) boating by the Red Cliff, and an inscription from either of the two rhapsodic essays that Su Shi composed for his boat trips. This kind of Red Cliff porcelains can now be found in museums worldwide. Most of them were produced in the last forty years of the Ming era.
The coarseness of the extant Red Cliff porcelains in material and craftmanship suggests that they were low-priced everyday objects. This paper is concerned with the formation of this pattern and its circulating trajactory in the late Ming material culture. This paper proposes that book illustrations were a direct source of its iconography, and the literati painting intrigured a demand for integrating text and image on porcelain objects.
Even tough their pattern suggests local Chinese audiences, these Red Cliff porcelains had been exported to Europe no later than 1620s. This raises questions to their dissemination route overseas as well as their reception in a different cultural environment. How Europeans in the seventeenth century conceived the text-and-image pattern on these Red Cliff porcelains, the content and connotation of which were very likely unclear to them? Why they imported and consumed these porcelains? Was there any interaction between these porcelains and the European porcelain design? These will also be the concerns of this paper.