Platter with Scene of Children at Play in a Garden
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Carved red lacquer
H. 2 3/8 in. (6 cm); Diam. 21 7/8 in. (55.6 cm)
Promised Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving
The imagery of this Yuan-period tray follows earlier Song-period (960–1279) conventions. The ladies’ clothing is in the Song style, and the child dressed as a scholar-gentleman at lower right sports a type of tall hat made fashionable during that era by the admired poet-official Su Shi (1036–1101). On the other hand, the three-dimensionality of the images, particularly the pavilion and the lotus pond, are typical of the later Yuan period. The theme of children at play expresses the wish for offspring and the joy of having them; the pomegranate tree behind the large rock reinforces this idea, for its many-seeded fruit is regarded as a symbol of progeny.