The Mahin Banu Dish
China; Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period, 1403–25
This extraordinary porcelain dish was made in China in the early 15th century and shows three bunches of grapes and leaves growing from a single vine stem. A 16th-century inscription reveals the first recorded owner as Mahin Banu Khanum, daughter of Shah Isma’il I, the founder of the Safavid empire. A second inscription from 1644 places the dish with Shah Jahan, ruler of the Mughal empire from 1628 to 1658, who is perhaps most renowned for having commissioned the Taj Mahal. It has a distinguished exhibition history including a long-term loan to The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1968 to 1991.