Flowering plums and birds, possibly magpies, a popular theme in the paining and poetry of the Southern Song dynasty (1279–1368), were understood as harbingers of spring, because the plum is one of the first blossoms to appear as winter ends. This depiction of plum blossoms, which range from buds to full blooms, derives from the influential Manual of Plum Blossom Likeness (Meihua xishen pu), written by the artist Song Boren in the mid-thirteenth century, which discusses and illustrates the different stages in the life of this delicate flower.
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Title:Dish with Flowering Plum and Birds
Period:Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Medium:Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay
Dimensions:H. 1/8 in. (.3 cm); Diam.11 5/8 in. (29.5 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, in honor of James C. Y. Watt, 2011
[ Klaus F. Naumann , Tokyo, until 1987; sold to Irving]; Florence and Herbert Irving , New York (1987–2011; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "East Asian Lacquer from the Florence and Herbert Irving Collection," November 22, 1991–February 23, 1992.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer," July 18–November 14, 2005.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Mother-of-Pearl: A Tradition in Asian Lacquer," December 2, 2006–April 1, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: An Introduction," December 4, 2007–May 11, 2008.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty," September 28, 2010–January 2, 2011.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Red and Black: Chinese Lacquer, 13th–16th Century," September 7, 2011–June 10, 2012.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Introduction to Chinese Lacquer," December 11, 2013–July 6, 2014.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th–18th Century," August 15, 2015–June 19, 2016.
Watt, James C. Y., and Barbara Brennan Ford. East Asian Lacquer: The Florence and Herbert Irving Collection. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991, pp. 126–27, cat. no. 55.
Leidy, Denise Patry. Mother-of Pearl: A Tradition in Asian Lacquer. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006, pp. 55, cat. no. 6.
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