The central roundel finely enamelled with a striding water buffalo underneath a willow tree, being led by a rope from the nose by a young boy wearing bunches and loose farm clothes, reserved on a bright coral red ground, the exterior with a clear glaze. Yongzheng six-character mark and of the period in a double-circle.
This design is part of the ‘Ten ox herding pictures’, a traditional Zen Buddhism teaching to describe the practitioners progress to enlightenment. The image here is the 4th image of the 10 pictures and displays the catching of the bull, a metaphor for the struggle in confronting the nature of consciousness.
• For a dish from the same set, see M. Beurdeley & G Raindre, Qing Porcelain, Famille Verte and Famille Rose, p. 101, no. 139. See another pair of comparable dishes in B. McElney, Porcelain