Chinese interest in Central Asian decorative motifs was in part a result of political and economic ties between the different kingdoms in China and the various peoples of Central Asia. The use of foreign motifs, seen as early as the 6th century, continued and intensified during the Tang dynasty (618-906), and such exoticism is one of the most important aspects of Tang art during the 7th and early 8th centuries. The shape of this three-legged dish decorated with a design of clouds and flowers was derived from similar shapes used in the metalwork of Iran and western Central Asia. While the clouds are a traditional Chinese motif, the stylization of the flower into a geometricized form reflects foreign aesthetics. The multicolored lead glazes used to decorate this piece are known as three-color, or sancai, glazes. Sancai pieces are among the best known ceramics of the Tang dynasty, and some of the finest examples are found among the many sculpted ceramic tomb figures made during this period.
Several techniques were used to decorate this earthenware dish: the design of flowers and clouds were first stamped into the clay, then portions of the design were covered with glazes of different colors. The clouds and part of the stylized flower were covered with a blue glaze, while another part of the flower was covered with a green glaze, as was the outer rim of the plate. Areas on the inside of the dish were covered with some type of glaze-resistant material, possibly wax, then golden brown glaze was used to coat the inner part of the dish and most of the base. The resist material prevented the glaze from adhering and allowed unglazed areas to become part of the overall decoration.