Ceramics -Chinese Plate for performing ablutions
Size: height: 7.5 cm; diameter: 41.8 cm
Origin and time: China Jingedzhen, povince of Jiangxi; period of Zhengde (r. 1506-1521)
Catalogue: Schätze des Aga Khan Museum, AKTC
Inv. No. AKM 00722
Since the 8th century Muslim merchants from the Middle East and Central Asia have settled down in the province of Fujian situated in the Southeast of China. Even the Mongolian invasions in the 13th century did not stop this migration movement. Blue-and-white ceramics with Arabic inscriptions such as this exquisite plate were made either for the Muslim community or for the export market. This plate was in all likelihood manufactured in one of the thousands of kilns around Jingdezhen in the province of Jiangxi where enormous amounts of blue-and-white ceramics were found.
Tahara, the Arabic word for purity, is written in cobalt blue in a circle at the transom of the plate. The circle is placed within two interlacing squares that are in turn surrounded by a circle. The digons of the squares and of the surrounding circle are filled with a cloud-collar pattern and with cirri in blue colour, both occuring again at the edge of the plate. Each of the four little squares arranged in equal distances on the plate’s edge contains an Arabic inscription forming the following sentence: “Blessed is he who purifies his hands from flaws”. Six squares similarly arranged at the outside of the plate read the following inscription: “Ablution above ablution is light above light”.
At the bottom of the plate is the six-character reign mark of Zhengde (r. 1506-1521), Emperor of the Ming Dynasty 大明正德年製 Da Ming Zhengde Nian Zhi. LA