The color yellow (huáng 黃) represents the element earth and is associated with "central" as a compass point, as in "China is the center of the world". Yellow was also the color associated with the emperor (huáng 皇) and the royal family, as the emperor was regarded as the "Son of Heaven" and resided in the heart of the Forbidden City.
The Qing Palace annals (Guochao Gongshi) decreed that only the Emperor, the Empress and the Empress Dowager were permitted to use ware glazed in yellow inside and out. Yellow-glazed bowls and dishes or plates were also used from the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644) to the Yongzheng period (1723-1735) of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) at sacrificial rituals in the Temple of Earth (Ditan). A very small number can also appear to have been presented as gifts to foreign envoys, since examples are, for instance, to be found in the collections at Dresden and the Ardebil Shrine.