This dish is a rare example of a Ming dynasty openware vessel with Jun glaze. While garden wares are quite well-known, Jun-type dishes dating to the early Ming period are much more unusual. The base glaze on this dish is the same clear blue-toned glaze found on Song dynasty Jun ware, but copper oxide was splashed over almost the whole surface before firing to give the vessel a rich purple tone. The colour of the original opalescent blue glaze can only be seen near the foot on one side of the exterior, and faintly on part of the rim.
A dish of the same shape, colour and size is in the collection of the Percival David Foundation, London, and is illustrated by R.L. Hobson, A Catalogue of Chinese Pottery and Porcelain in the Collection of Sir Percival David Bt., F.S.A., Stourton Press, London, 1934, p. 77, pl. LXXVI. Like the current example, the David Foundation dish has an unglazed base, which bears dark speckling from firing. There is some debate as to where these dishes were made. Some scholars have suggested that they were made at Jingdezhen, in response to the early Ming court's fascination with Song dynasty ceramics. A Jingdezhen provenance certainly seems likely for a larger Jun-style dish in the British Museum, see J. Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, British Museum Press, 2001, p. 458, no. 15:23, which appears to have an iron-brown coating over its pale body, and which has an evenly speckled glaze. The British Museum dish is, however, probably of later Ming date than the current dish and the David Foundation example. Some scholars have suggested that dishes like the latter two, which have no iron coating, may have been made at Zhending Fu in Hebei province (somewhat nearer the areas of the Song dynasty Jun kilns). Kilns in this area became well-known for their 'red' wares from the fourteenth century onwards. A northern provenance for these dishes might account for the areas of fine blue Jun glaze on the current dish, which would have been easier to achieve in a northern mantou kiln than in a southern kiln. Wherever it was made, the present dish is a rare vessel and its glaze has exceptional colour and texture.