In this scene, which is known as ‘Hongniang in the Dock’, Yingying’s maid Hongniang is shown being interrogated and rebuked by Yingying’s mother regarding her daughter’s relationship with Zhang Sheng. The text behind the seated mother reflects Hongniang’s view and reads rather bluntly: ‘Why persist in stopping them? Daughters and dead fish are not items to be retained’. A differently composed scene from the Xixiang ji depicting a tense encounter between Yingying’s mother and Hongniang decorates the Yuan dynasty meiping in the Victoria and Albert Museum, but the scene on the Curtis dish was almost certainly inspired by an illustration in the 1659 woodblock printed edition of the tale. (fig.1)
For a blue and white Kangxi-period dish with another version of this scene see Chen Runmin, Selected Chinese Ceramics from the Palace Museum (Volume 1): Blue and White Ceramics in Shunzhi and Kangxi Periods (Qing Shunzhi Kangxi chao qing hua ci), Beijing, 2005, p. 128, no. 65.