REF No. 6659
Massive Chinese export porcelain famille rose Charger with a Myna Bird
Diameter: 21½ inches; 52cm
A massive Chinese export porcelain famille rose charger, decorated with flowers and a black bird, probably a myna.
This large dish is finely painted and shows a myna bird. These birds are species of starling and this one looks to be a Crested Myna (Acridotheres cristatellus, L. 1758), which has a pale beak, orange eyes, a thin white flash on the forewing and a white tip to the tail, as well as a distinctive crest above the bill. Its distribution is across South east China.
Mynas (ma mi niao) were popular cage birds in China and have the ability to mimic sounds, often repeating words. They are intelligent and appear in some Chinese folktales, including one from the Han, in which a myna belonging to an artist gains revenge upon a local magistrate who unfairly treats its master.
In the Ming era they often symbolised freedom and independence of thought. A painting by Bada Shanren (c.1626-1705) has the inscription: “The Myna bird understands the language of man and does not care whether the wind blows or the sun shines.”