Xuande: Blue and White Phoenix Bowl
A blue and white phoenix bowl with flower petal-like decorated rims. Each phoenix is elegantly drawn with a persian colbalt that was made available for a short period during Xuande's reign. The phoenix is an animal reserved for women of the imperial family, usually princesses, and empresses. Due to the number of phoenixes on this bowl, it was likely used by an important princess or the empress herself.
Xuande underglaze blue painting was basically literati painting, elegant and uninhibited. It has taken a long time to fully understand the origins of the Xuande cobalt blue. Wang Zongmu of Jiajing's reign wrote in the "Ceramics Administration" chapter of the "Great Gazetteer of Jiangxi": Ceramics use Mohammedan blue [hui qing], originally tribute from foreign countries.
Furthermore, Wang Shimao of Wanli's reign wrote in his Annals Written in Retirement that "in the Ming a special kiln was established at Jingdezhen in Fuliang county. During Yongle and Xuande reigns, the palace fired ceramics here, which are still treasured today. At that time wares with palm-eye depressions and sweet-white glaze were common. Some wares were decorated with Sumali blue [qing]." Sumali is likely a Chinese translation of a place name in the Middle East, most likely an islamic land given the other reference to Mohammedan blue
Chinese Ceramics: From the Paleolithic Period through the Qing Dynasty, p. 424.