The purpose of these thickly potted shallow bowls, is discussed in Chinese Porcelain, The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, part II, p. 55, where bowls decorated in a variety of flower scrolls are illustrated, ibid., pls. 25-27. It has been suggested these bowls were used by scholars as brushwashers, served as fruit bowls, for playing dice, or even for cricket fights. The pastime of watching fighting crickets was popular in the Ming dynasty and it has been suggested that "the extreme thickness of the bowls would render them an ideal battlefield", ibid, p. 53.
The present Yongle bowl decorated with a single theme of scrolling 'roses' appears to be unique. Examples of this identical floral pattern are found on bowls of this form with Xuande reign marks. For Xuande-marked examples, see the bowl in the Percival David Foundation, London, illustrated by M. Medley, 'Re-grouping 15th Century Blue and White', T.O.C.S., 1962-64, vol. 34, pl. 3a, with a shard of another bowl of this pattern, pl. 3b; the example in National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in the Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsuan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, Taipei, 1998, pl. 49; and one was sold in these Rooms, 20 March 1990, lot 521.