This plate is an example of Peranakan Chinese porcelain or Nyonya ware made from overglaze polychrome porcelain. This piece carries the reign mark “Xuantong nian zhi” with ‘zero’ at the centre. Xuantong emperor refers to Puyi who reigned for a period from 1908 to 1911. This suggests that the piece was made during this period. The central decorative motif on this piece consists of a phoenix perched on a moss covered rockery, from which blossoming peonies grow. Much attention to detail is given in the creation of this phoenix. The neck plumage is painted with pink, blue and green enamel strokes, the scaly body done in dark green and black while the tail has a greyish tinge. The phoenix and peonies are auspicious symbols in the Chinese culture. The phoenix represents beauty, grace and high virtue. It also symbolises the bride or the empress. When depicted perched on a rockery, it is a symbol of stability and permanence. The peony is a symbol of spring, love, beauty and good fortune. The bright yellow background is an auspicious colour among Peranakan Chinese and was associated with festive occasions such as Chinese New Year and birthday celebrations.

Early 20th century
Kuala Lumpur, British Malaya
Gross measurement: H: 2.9 x Dia: 19.9 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Peranakan Museum
Credit Line
Gift of Sunny Chan Hean Kee