China, Ming Dynasty / Ritual Disc / early 15th centuryChina, Ming Dynasty
Ritual Disc
early 15th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China
Creator Active Place: China
Creator Name-CRT: China, Ming Dynasty
Title: Ritual Disc
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1400
Creation End Date: 1433
Creation Date: early 15th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Enamel
Materials and Techniques: cloisonné enamel
Dimensions: Diameter: 30.8cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1987.58
Credit Line: Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
Context: Cloisonný enameling, a method of applying varicolored decoration to the surface of metal objects, was developed in western Asia and introduced to China during the Yuan dynasty when the Pax Mongolica facilitated cultural and artistic exchanges across thecontinent. Choosing to decorate cast bronzes, Chinese artisans created their patterns with applied copper or bronze strips that served as enclosures, called cloisons, for colored glass pastes derived from various metallic oxides. The pastes, applied withabrush, filled the cloisons, and were fused and fixed to the metal through firing. This technique allowed entire objects to be encased in a colorful decorative skin and thus differed from traditional Chinese methods of metal inlay involving sheets or metallic powders applied only to selected portions of objects. Developed at the same time as cobalt blue underglaze painting on porcelains, cloisonný enamels frequently exhibit patterns like those found on contemporary ceramics. Thus, this richly decorated disc is covered in a sweeping lotus scroll similar to those on late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century porcelains. Typical of the ceramic and metal objects required for Buddhist ritual, the lotus design is enhanced by the Eight Symbols of the faith, with the inner circle of blossoms supporting the fish, canopy, mystical knot, wheel, conch shell, umbrella, jar, and lotus. Like many other Buddhist cloisonný enamels, this disc was created for a specific Tantric rite of Tibetan Buddhism. In a meditation ritual known as Offering the Universe, the top of the disc functioned as a mandala or cosmic diagram. During the ceremony, offerings of grains of rice were placed on the disc to the accompaniment of chanted prayer, preparing initiates for more advanced meditative practices by purifying their mind of obstacles. The grains of rice placed in mounds represented Mount Sumeru (the axis mundi) and the four continents of traditional Buddhist cosmology. K.W.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1987.58
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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