The design on this dish is typically described as 'lotus bouquet' and indeed the majority of the flowers, pod and leaves belong to the auspicious lotus plant. However, the bouquet also includes additional auspicous plants, such as the arrow-shaped sagittaria sagittifolia, a symbol both of generosity and of food in time of shortage, and a stalk of millet, symbolizing an abundance of grain.
Dishes with this 'lotus bouquet' design belong to an important group of early Ming blue and white wares together with 'grape' dishes, 'melon' dishes and 'dragon' dishes. See J.A. Pope, Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine, Washington, D.C., 1956, p. 92, where he discusses the thirty-four 'bouquet' dishes of varying size and with varying borders in the Ardebil Collection, showing the wide range of intensity of cobalt within the dishes and the diversity of decoration, albeit based on a master pattern. Some of these variations can be seen, ibid., on pls. 30 and 31.
A smaller dish of this shape and design in the Shanghai Museum is illustrated by Wang Qingzheng, Underglaze Blue and Red, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 10 , no. 80. Another of slightly larger size (40.8 cm. diam.) in the National Palace Museum, is illustrated in Catalogue of a Special Exhibition of Early Ming Porcelain, Taipei, 1982, no. 39.