Johanna Brown and Luke Beckerdite in their 2009 Ceramics in America article compared the floral design in the center of the dish to the many accurate botanical drawings circulated in the second half of the eighteenth-century. The specific flowers depicted–roses– are associated with Christ, the Lutheran rose (as selected by Martin Luther as a symbol of the Lutheran Church), and purity. Thus, the motifs on the dish reflect the Moravians’ Christocentric beliefs. Three roses together as seen on this dish may simbolize the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost).
Slipware in the Moravian tradition differs from the slipware from the St. Asaph’s district of Orange County (now Alamance County), North Carolina. The Moravians had a naturalistic vocabulary of motifs with spiritual significance and seem to have limited their slip decorating to dishes. In contrast, the St. Asaph’s potters used a wide variety of motifs– stylized crosses and plant forms, fylfots, imbricated triangles, and other geometric designs on both flat and hollowware forms.
This dish is attributed to Gottfried Aust, likely made during his tenure in Salem, North Carolina. Master potter Gottfried Aust arrived in Bethabara, North Carolina in 1755 and immediately sought local stores of clay and flint for use in his pottery. By the spring of 1756 he had conducted firing experiments on these materials, and in August he built a larger kiln in which he fired earthenware. Aust stayed in Bethabara until 1771, when he moved to the Moravians’ newly built town of Salem and served as master of the pottery there until his death in 1788.
Beckerdite, Luke and Brown, Johanna. “Eighteenth Century Earthenware from North Carolina: The Moravian Tradition Reconsidered,” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2009): 2-67.