The unusual decoration on the present bowl is associated with the Dengjie or Lantern Festival, which is the last event of the extended Chinese New Year festivities taking place on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar calendar, and its main purpose is to pray for good health and prosperity. The major source of prosperity in 16th and 17th century China was a good harvest, and so the iconography of the clothes, porcelains and accoutrements for the festival reinforced that theme. In addition to the cash-shaped emblem carried by two of the figures on the bowl, and the sheaf of grain (he) carried by another, the lantern (deng) carried on the horse's back and the bees (feng) flying beside them provide an apposite rebus wu he feng deng, to reap a bumper grain harvest.
A Wanli wucai dish bearing this decoration was given by Sir Percival David to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1917, illustrated by R. Scott and R. Kerr, Ceramic Evolution in the Middle Ming Period, Percival David Foundation, London, 1994, p. 22, no. 24. Very few plates bearing this decoration are known to have survived, but bowls like the current vessel are especially rare.