This colorful porcelain bowl dates to the mid-19th century and was originally used as a serving dish for ritual offerings, placed before a home altar and piled high with fruit, baked goods, and other foods. The dish has a shallow cartouche-shaped body and a short footed base decorated with crashing waves.
The dish is painted with overglaze enamels in the famille rose style, with a scene of three mythical figures on a floating, heavenly island. The central figure depicts the 3rd-century warrior Guan Yu, also known as the God of War, here flanked by his son and his squire. Venerated for his strength and wisdom, Guan Yu is worshipped throughout China and is one of the central figures in the Ming-dynasty classic novel 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms.'
The central scene is bordered by auspicious scholars' objects, including books, scrolls, offerings, and a ruyi scepter. The bowl exterior is painted with bats, harbingers of happiness, and ripe peaches, symbols of longevity. Brightly colored and dense with symbolism, this footed offering dish is a fantastic centerpiece or serving bowl.