Basin, early 17th century. Pewter with gilt and brass decoration, 3 x 18 x 18 in. (7.6 x 45.7 x 45.7 cm). Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton, 2001.35 © 2014 Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
Large metal washbasins supported on wooden stands must have been common in prosperous Ming dynasty households. This one, with its shaped flange rim and gilt decorated interior, is rather luxurious. The rim is embellished with a variety of potted flowers while the floor of the vessel is decorated with a gilded scene of a lady, her maid, and a gentleman in a garden-like setting. The figures seem to float on clouds amongst flowering trees and terraced pavilions. Through the center an arched tree appears sprouted with several cloud-shaped « sacred fungi » called ling-chih, a plant symbolic of immortality.