Compare the similar bowl in the collection of the Percival David Foundation, illustrated by M. Medley in Ming Polychrome Wares, London, 1977, no. 85, plate VIII; and another formerly in the Eugene O. Perkins Collection, sold at Sotheby's, New York, 1 June 1990, lot 188.
The exterior of this bowl is decorated with an attractive rendering of one of China's most popular flowers - chrysanthemum, which is one of the 'Flowers of the four seasons' - representing Autumn. Along with lotus, orchid and bamboo, the chrysanthemum is also regarded as one of the 'Four Gentlemen of flowers'. Chrysanthemums are mentioned in such early classical literature as The Book of Odes, and are symbols of longevity and wealth. The reason they are associated with longevity is because the word for chrysanthemum is ju which sounds similar to the word jiu meaning 'long enduring', but also because infusions made from their petals have medicinal properties. Chrysanthemums are included in decoration to suggest wealth, probably because they have so many petals. They are also associated with the poet Tao Yuanming (AD 365-427), who resigned from office and lived in seclusion writing poetry, the best known example of which is his famous 'Homecoming Ode'. However, he was also known for his love of chrysanthemums and wrote poetry in their honour.
The ceramic decorator has used the wucai palette very effectively on this bowl. On the exterior, the geometric blue key fret band around the mouth rim complements the naturalistic floral decoration below, while the four areas of blue ornamental rocks are arranged at cardinal points around the lower part of the bowl providing a framework around which the vibrant red and yellow chrysanthemums can grow.