Through this action the ambitious Yongle pursues a political goal. Yuan porcelains had been admired throughout Asia for their beauty and healthiness. Yongle makes them a flagship of China's unsurpassable art and uses them widely as diplomatic gifts. The pieces that failed in production are scrapped to avoid imitations. Only the best of the best is released.
Since the Song dynasty the porcelain competes with jade in terms of exquisiteness. The blue decorations of the Yuan porcelain display a wide variety of themes. The diplomatic ambition of the Ming adds new stylized or naturalist themes often to the taste of the Middle East.
Touch is as important as visual beauty. A new shape of porcelain gourd named moon flask is developed during the Yongle period. Its body in a more or less bulging oval section is pleasing to hold in hands for pouring. The narrow neck is equipped with two handles.
On March 14 in New York, Sotheby's sells a moon flask 29 cm high from the Yongle period, lot 4 estimated $ 2,2M. It is decorated with tufts of flowers growing on an uneven natural ground : asters on one side and carnations on the other side. This realistic arrangement escaping from the more usual garlands, patterns and bouquets is of extreme rarity. This piece probably made a pair with the only other known similar example that is preserved at Topkapi.