Lacquer dishes of this design were used in the tea ceremony in temples and were sometimes found together with lotus boxes, such as that in lot 633.
Similar red lacquer trays also with eleven petals are known, one in the collection of the Tokyo National Museum, included in the Special Exhibition, Jixiang - Auspicious Motifs in Chinese Art, Tokyo, 1998, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 9; and three others from the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, of Lady David, and of Sir Harry and Lady Garner in the British Museum, all included in the Cleveland Museum of Art Exhibition of Chinese Art Under the Mongols: The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), 1968, illustrated in the Catalogue, nos. 288-290, together with a black lacquer dish of similar design, from the Jean Pierre Dubosc Collection, no. 291. Other black dishes of this type include one from the Edward T. Chow Collection, shown at the Exhibition of One Man's Taste, Treasures from the Lakeside Pavilion, at the Galleries of the Baur Collection, Geneva, 1988-9, Catalogue, no. L22; and another in the Seattle Art Museum, illustrated in Asiatic Art in the Seattle Art Museum, no. 137.
The design of lotus flower petals encircling the seed pod was popular in Chinese decorative art as early as the 5th century, as can be seen on a celadon-glazed ceramic dish dating to the Southern Dynasties period in the Tokyo National Museum, included in the Special Exhibition, Jixiang - Auspicious Motifs in Chinese Art, Tokyo, 1998, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 3. The design continued into the 6th and 7th centuries, as evident on end-tiles of the Northern Dynasties and early Tang period, also in the Tokyo National Museum, illustrated ibid., nos. 4 and 5. This auspicious design found further popularity in the succeeding periods and in a number of different media.
Compare the dish with other lacquerware bearing the same maker's inscription, Zhou Ming zao (Made by Zhou Ming): a dish carved with a pavilion scene, illustrated by Lee Yu-Kuan, Oriental Lacquer Art, fig. 73, together with an illustration of the mark; an octafoil dish carved with birds and a circular box, cover and stand each with the same inscription, exhibited by the Tokugawa and Nezu Museums, 1984, illustrated in Carved Lacquer, nos. 54 and 121, accompanied by details of the mark; and a dish with Buddhist lions, sold in our London Rooms, 6 December 1993, lot 142, also illustrated with the mark.