Two Plates

China, Jiangxi Province
Ming period, early 17th century (probably Tianqi era, 1621-1627)
Porcelain painted with underglaze cobalt blue
Each H. 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm), D. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm); 1979.183 and 1979.184

Artist Comments

Heri Dono
These two plates caught my attention since at first they appear to be identical. But when taking a closer look at the two, small differences emerge and it reminded me of playing a puzzle game, spotting the differences. The two plates side by side look like a pair of binoculars and one must use the left and right eye to compare the two pictures. The almost identical men are Buddhist monks and look to me to be on a long journey, carrying pagodas or what could be a stacks of plates. Perhaps their journey is from China all the way to Japan, where plates such as these were used in the tea ceremony ritual. The monks are depicted barefoot with big toes and walk in a funny manner as though the artist has yet to study the walking image. Their Buddhist robes make them appear birdlike, in particular the one to the right. I feel this adds spiritual context to their appearance, and should they wish they could fly to their destination. I smiled because glancing quickly at the men they seem to be wearing glasses and reminded me of myself.