Of circular form, the sides spreading from a short straight foot rim, covered overall with a deep blue glaze, decorated under the glaze with an incised design of waves and a leaping carp among water plants and flower sprays, the base partly glazed.
Swatow ware is difficult to date because of the scarcity of well-documented pieces. However, monochrome dishes such as this with incised decoration are thought to be among the earliest made, according to Barbara Harrison in Swatow in het Princessehof ( 1979).
The carp is a symbol of longevity, abundance and perseverance, qualities that are associated with the carp's long lifespan and the gruelling struggles they undertake against strong river currents. Legend has it that if a carp successfully manages to swim the rapids of the Longmen Falls (Dragon's Gate) of the Yellow River (Huang Ho), located deep in the heart of the Kunlun Mountains, it will transform into a dragon. This tale can be seen as a parable for perseverance and success.
For another dish of this type, see A Selection from the Collection of Oriental Ceramics by Christiaan J. A. Jorg, pl. 18, inventory number JMD-P-0901.