This basin is a rare example of a fine pictorial rendering of bird and flower design on Wanli wucai porcelains. A Wanli wucai basin with very similar design is in the collection of the Capital Museum, Beijing (Shoudu bowuguan cang ci xuan, Wenwu chubanshe, Beijing, 1991, p. 139, no. 134). Vessels of this type undoubtedly provided the inspiration for the wucai wares of the early Qing dynasty which depicted similar themes in the same palette, like the Shunzhi rouleau vase in the Palace Museum, Beijing (The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, 38, Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 67, no. 62), which also shows a golden pheasant on a rock with peonies. The current basin shares with a Wanli wucai box in the Palace Museum, Beijing (The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum 38 Porcelains in Polychrome and Contrasting Colours, op. cit., p. 44, no. 40) similar rendering of a small-leafed plant as well as similar rendering of the small birds. The ribbon-like multi-coloured clouds on the current dish are an effective feature of pictorial wucai porcelains of the Wanli reign, and can be seen on lobed basins in the Eisei Bunko, Tokyo and in the Ataka collection, Osaka (Sekai toji zenshu 14 Ming, op. cit., pp. 102-3, nos. 104 and 105).
The decoration in the centre of the basin is complemented by the ogival panels and lattice design around the flattened rim. This format is also found on blue and white wares of the Wanli period, as can be seen on a blue and white circular box illustrated by R. Fujioka and G. Hasebe in Sekai toji zenshu 14 Ming, op. cit., pp. 100-1, no. 103, which shares with the basin the use of Buddhist swastikas in each cell of the cash lattice. The fruit, which are featured on the upper part of the central design as well as appearing in two of the rim panels, are interesting since they represent an archaistic reference to Chenghua porcelain. This style of depicting both peaches and pomegranates can be seen on doucai bowls and dishes excavated from the late Chenghua stratum at the Ming imperial kilns at Jingdezhen (A Legacy of Chenghua, Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1993, pp. 318-9 and 332-3, nos. C115 and C122). The style appears in both doucai and wucai technique in the Wanli reign (Sekai toji zenshu 14 Ming, op. cit., pp. 108-9, no. 111, and L.A. Cort and J. Stuart, Joined Colors - Decoration and Meaning in Chinese Porcelain, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C./Woods Publishing, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 108, no. 36, respectively), and is used very effectively on the current basin.
The depiction of a ground plane, as well as the treatment of rocks and peonies on the current basin is similar to that seen on a lobed Wanli wucai basin excavated in Beijing and illustrated by R. Fujioka and G. Hasebe in Sekai toji zenshu 14 Ming, op. cit., no. 204. The combination of birds, rocks, flowers and fruit also appears on a square-section Wanli wucai jar in the Tokyo National Museum ( Sekai toji zenshu 14 Ming, op. cit., p. 97, no. 101), but the most painterly and sophisticated version of the design is that on the current basin.