Bowl with imaginary composite flowers

Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Daoguang mark and period (1821–50)

Culture: China

Medium: Porcelain painted with colored enamels over a transparent glaze (Jingdezhen ware)

Dimensions: H. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm); Diam. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Purchase by subscription, 1879

Accession Number: 79.2.536


The blossoms and leaves on this bowl illustrate an imaginary flower that combines elements of the peony, lotus, chrysanthemum, pomegranate, and other plants. Intended to represent majesty and beauty, this decorative flower (often known as a baoxianghua) first appeared in the sixth or seventh century. Flowers are not found as motifs in Chinese art prior to this period, and it is possible they were introduced with Buddhist imagery.