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"Aranhões" Plate

Second half of the 17th century



"Aranhões" ceramics innocently reproduced elements like handscrolls and books found on Chinese porcelain. This type of pottery demanded little in terms of artistic quality and is likely to have been used by the lower classes. On this piece, the central motif on the well of the plate depicts a Chinese dragon.

The symbols used had a specific meaning for the Chinese, while Portuguese producers tended to simply copy the motifs without contextualising them. Initially, these reproductions were more faithful to the original designs.

From 1640, however, the figures began to be simplified, reducing them to a schematic design of ‘leaves’ with additional elements akin to ‘legs. The design was suggestive of spiders and the pattern became known as ‘aranhões’ (large spiders).

4 Prato de aranhoes Museu de Lisboa.jpg

© Museu de Lisboa