A pair of crabs and fish dishes. Kangxi

Decorated  in underglaze blue, the centre with a crab, four fish and water weeds, the sides and rim with another four fish and water plants a double line around the rim.

Period :
Kangxi (166-1722)
8.07 in. (20,5 cm)
Reference :
upon request


Marchant (London), inv. 2813 CT/X

Related works

For a larger dish of this shape and design from the collection of the Musée National Adrien Dubouché (Limoges, inventory number ADL6081), see L’odyssee de la porcelaine chinoise, Editions de la Reunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris,2003, p. 128, no. 62.

Seven similar dishes are in the Topkapi Sarah Museum (Istanbul).

A pair of dishes are also in the Fondation Custodio and published by Christiaan J. A. Jörg in Chinese and Japanese Porcelain in the Frits Lugt Collection, 2023, p. 208/209.


Chinese Export Porcelain dishes of this shape and variants of it are well known and this specific shape was a popular one for this design. Originally deriving from silver, it is also common in Dutch Delft Ware, both in blue and white as well as plain white Delft pottery.

The decoration on these two dishes is a continuation of earlier versions of this well known aquatic motif, which originated in the mid-Ming dynasty. Fish symbolise abundance and wealth while eight is a lucky number. Further more, according to Ströber, four fish among water plants denote a four-character  phrase, qingbai lijie, “incorruptible, a reference to the Confucian ideal of the perfect gentleman. Thus, the dishes convey good wishes on several levels.

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