well potted, the ovoid body finely painted with four boys in a garden centred around an older boy wearing a gold official's cap holding a golden helmet above his head as the other boys reach for it, the boys all dressed in colourful outfits, their faces finely outlined and shaded, the reverse with a pomegranate tree laden with ripe fruit bursting through the skin, set between pendant and upright ruyi-heads draping the shoulder and skirting the blue keyfret foot, all below a tall slender waisted neck with an everted rim, painted on a turquoise ground with lotus scrolls and two shou characters, the interior and the underside glazed in turquoise, the base inscribed with a six-character reign mark in iron-red reserved on a white ground
Collection of a Chinese antique dealer formed before WWII.
Acquired in Brittany, France, 1973.
The charming scene on the present vase depicts five boys playfully fighting for a helmet, which represents five boys competing for distinction and the wish for sons to attain 'first place' in the civil service examinations. These boys refer to the five eminent sons of Dou Yujun, each of whom achieved exceptional success in the civil service examinations. Dou, a scholar, educator and official, lived at Yanshan during the Five Dynasties period (907-960) and is revered as the ideal parent for successfully raising five outstanding sons. Thus, this vase may have been made as a gift for success in the official examinations.
Compare slightly smaller Daoguang vases of this form but decorated with ruby-ground neck and foot, such as one depicting children in a Dragon Boat Race illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelains with Cloisonné Enamel Decoration and Famille-Rose Decoration, Hong Kong, 1999, cat. no. 194; and another decorated with fruiting pomegranate trees, included in the exhibition From the Dragon's Treasure, Museum für Kunsthanwerk, Berlin, 1987, cat. no. 53.
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