VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Elephant Dish
IV-97-H-805
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

It is a unique porcelain dish, one of two pieces so far recovered in the world. The Elephant Dish is made of porcelain with black and brown specks visible in the paste. On the central medallion is the flying elephant design painted in dark blue against a background of stormy and foaming waves. Lotus scroll with pointed leaves and classical scroll designs are on the cavetto and rim. On the the reverse side are a lotus scroll between two blue lines and little clouds on the rim. The foot is surrounded by two dark cobalt blue line designs. The base is flat and unglazed with radial and circular lines.

History of the Object
The underwater exploration of the Lena Shoal wreck site in Palawan was a joint project of the National Museum and the Far Eastern Foundation for Nautical Archaeology (FEFNA). It revealed the presence of a Chinese trading vessel with valuable cargo from China, Siam and Annam. The cargo consisted of magnificent artifacts that are solid evidence of a flourishing maritime trade in ca. 1500 AD. One of the artifacts recovered was the elephant dish. It is now on display at the Five Centuries of Maritime Trade, 2nd floor, Museum of the Filipino People.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
Porcelain 
Measurements
Width mouth - 38.7 cm Height 9.6 cm Length base - 21.4 cm  
Creator name
Chinese - Middle Ming Dynasty; part of trade goods 
Creator date
Middle Ming Dynasty 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 16th century ~ AD 16th century 
Creation date
16th Century; ca. 1500 (Middle Ming Dynasty)  
Function
Dish; utensil 
Acquisition
Systematically recovered using underwater archaeological methods in 1997; entered the NM collection in 1997 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
National Museum 
Museum
National Museum of the Philippines 
Credit line
 

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