Zhangzhou Dish Made for the Islamic Market
The porcelain dish is of circular form and is painted in underglaze cobalt blue on white. The centre of the dish is depicted with an architectural landscape scene including numerous pagoda-like buildings, figures, large rocks together with a fish, a lobster, two figures on a boat and various plants. The deep cavetto of the dish is decorated with panels of Arabic inscriptions alternating with flowers also enclosed in cartouches. The outer rim of the dish is further decorated with smaller panels of flowers and foliage.
Zhangzhou dishes with Arabic inscriptions were made predominantly for the Southeast Asian Islamic market. Most often these wares were exported to Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan. These dishes were initially referred to as 'Swatow' wares as they were presumed to be named after the 'Shantou' port in Guangdong Province, China, from where they were later shipped out. Similar Zhangzhou dishes with Arabic inscriptions can be found in The Aga Khan Collection, Topkapi Saray, The Dutch Princessehof Collection in Leeuwarden and The Asian Civilisations Museum. There is a large Chinese dish with Arabic inscriptions in The Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, Accession Number 2007-00870, which measures 42.3cm diameter - nearly the same size as our dish.