Elevated Eating : Chinese Serving Dish
This serving dish would have been rather expensive at the time of its production in the Northern Guandong Province of China, and would therefore have been unattainable by most of the population beloinging to the agrarian peasant class. Instead of an object of the masses, a pewter piece like this would commonly have been part of an elite woman's dowry. It evoked memories of the betrothal and this connection to the beginning of marriage would have given such a piece and any food held within special significance. A meal served in this piece would be a balanced mixture of ingredients, in accordance with the ancient Chinese ideals of yin and yang. A cook could choose the elements of this dish from as many as 414 varieties of edible plants, fish, ox, goat meat, or even imported foodstuffs like peanuts and potatoes.