It is extremely rare to find a vessel painted with the combination of dragons, phoenix, and cranes. This bowl, decorated with an additional shou medallion, as well as songbirds and the fruiting peach trees, all symbols of longevity, was most probably presented as an imperial birthday gift.
The shape of the bowl, with its tall foot, is a classic Jiajing form. Cf. a Jiajing bowl of this shape painted with a variety of birds from the Edward T. Chow Collection, sold Sotheby's Hong Kong, 25 November 1980, lot 12; one with dragons striding around the sides and the reign mark inscribed on the interior, illustrated in the Catalogue of An Exhibition of Important Chinese Ceramics from the Robert Chang Collection, Christie's London, 1993, no. 16, and sold in our New York Rooms, 24 March 2004, lot 178; an example with dragons on the interior, boys on the exterior and the mark within the base, illustrated in the Handbook of the Oriental Collection, Birmingham Museum of Art, 1988, no. 26; and another decorated with fish and waterweeds, included in The Philadelphia Exhibition of Ming Blue-and-White, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1949, no. 115.