Skilfully carved to capture the warmth and charm of the subject, the present piece is remarkable for the exquisitely rendered forms and highly-polished surface. Moreover, this carving is an outstanding example of the ingenuity of the carver to utilise as much of the superb-quality original pebble as possible to convey the multiple layers of auspicious meaning. While it was important for families to ensure that their family name would be carried on through the birth of sons, it was imperative that the son be distinguished and thus to bring honour to the family. The smiling boy carries a peach, a symbol of longevity, and wears a double gourd across his back while tilting his head up as though speaking. Images of such boys sometimes include a katydid, and the close pronunciation of 'katydid' (guoguo) with 'brother' (gege) suggests that a family has more than one boy, implying the wish for many sons. As the only animal capable of searching out the fungus of immortality (lingzhi), the deer that the boy leans towards holds a stylised fungus in its mouth to symbolise longevity; while the combination of a deer with a bat conveys the wish for blessing and emolument to be complete.
It is unusual for carvings to include such an array of motifs; for a carving of a boy carrying a large peach and with a large sack across his shoulders sold at Christie's London, 16th December 1987, lot 561.
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