China, Jiangxi Province
Ming period, mid-to late 15th century (probably Chenghua era, 1465-1487)
Porcelain with glaze (Jingdezhan ware)
H. 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm), D. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm); 1979.177

Artist Comments

Chen Shi-Zheng
Simplicity. One simple white line. The drama. That red. A burgundy red. I don't know what to say about it right now, just something very special about it.

Pico Iyer
As anyone who has seen the classic films of Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou (Yellow Earth, say, and Ju Dou) knows well, China still has the gift of communicating powerfully through colors (in Anchee Min's confessional account of the Cultural Revolution, red speaks for blood and passion, as well as for the ideology she was at once upholding and defying). In this particular piece the red, or rustish, color suggests to me the earth, and, apparently, the color of sacrifice, and yet also (with that slim white rim) asks what price sacrifice entails. Looking at this piece, I think of the circle that turns at the heart of Eastern thinking, roughly inscribed by Zen masters and conveying energy and harmony together. I think of time as something that moves around instead of forward. And I think of all the ancient scrolls and poems so simple that they go right through you. So simple, in fact, that they touch on mystery.