Only two other pairs of cups from this group are known: a pair illustrated in Julian Thompson, The Alan Chuang Collection of Chinese Porcelain, Hong Kong, 2009, pl. 94; and another sold in these rooms, 29th November 1976, lot 614. Compare also an individual bowl with rounded sides, painted with a related interior design and the exterior covered in a bright carnation-pink enamel, published in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 2, London, 1994, pl. 957.
For the prototype of these cups, see a Kangxi mark and period example, sold in these rooms, 16th November 1988, lot 366, and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1st December 2010, lot 2813, from the Gerald M. Greenwald collection; another pair, from the collection of Paul and Helen Bernat, sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 15th November 1988, lot 49, and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27th November 2007, lot 1759; and a single cup, from the Riesco Collection, illustrated in Riesco Collection of Chinese Ceramics Handlist, Croydon, 1987, pl. 159.
The present design, with its depiction of fruit and seeds, perhaps meant to evoke the healthy, aromatic infusions that are flavoured with dried fruit and spices, is symbolic of the wish for many sons and grandsons. These fruit and seeds would also be placed in cups of tea traditionally served to parents of a bride and groom at a wedding or sprinkled on a marriage bed. It is likely such cups would have been ordered for a wedding celebration.
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