Antique Chinese Ming Dynasty Zen-inspired Ceramic Plate, Chenghua Mark

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Seller: bandawei (106) 100%, Location: Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 173548610346 A unique hand-painted ceramic charger with an inscription alluding to the virtue of detachment (胸中無一物), a central tenet of Chinese chan (Zen) Buddhism. The epigram on the face of the plate xiong zhong wu yi wu 胸中無一物 “in one’s breast there is not a single thing” is an allusion to a famous Chinese Zen (Chan) Buddhist maxim and to a poem (毗陵天寧普能嵩禪師《淨土詩》) on aspiring to reach the pure land of Buddhist heaven by achieving complete detachment from distracting thoughts, impulses, and desires. In the expression he xu 合須 (“what’s the need of”; the word he “how, what” on the left is written with the homonym 合 rather than correct he 何). “What need is there to dwell excessively, regretting former faults” immediately follows the line “in one’s breast . . .” The poem is by a medieval monk attached to the Tang dynasty Tian ning si 天寧寺 (Heavenly Peace Temple) in Changzhou 常州, Jiangsu.The hand-painted scene depicts a mother instructing her son on Buddhist teachings in the courtyard of the family home or a temple. The maxim “not a single thing” is written horizontally in large, inelegant characters. “What need . . .” he xu is written vertically in diminutive characters on the left, matching xiong zhong “in one’s breast” on the right. The charger is just over 11 in. (28.5 cm) in diameter and slightly discolored in places by long use. The base has a Ming dynasty Chenghua reign period (1465-1487) mark, though this may not be the actual date of fabrication. The piece was presumably made to order, commissioned by a chan devotee. This is a unique example of one-of-a-kind provincial item that rarely survives. From a mid-20th century estate sale of fine Asian antiques. Region of Origin: China, Age: Pre-1800, Primary Material: Porcelain & Pottery, Maker: unknown, Original/Reproduction: Antique Original, Color: white with underglaze blue

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