Recently, the capital (Nanjing) has been fairly calm and peaceful, this time when you return from your duty, you should have the qualities to be promoted to the military general of the state. Heng Gong (the military official who spent nearly three decades defending the Shu State) was delighted to hear about you after reading my letter and wish to see you successfully complete further duties. Xie Wu Yi and I have been communicating through letters and he is doing fine. After his brother (Xie Ren Zu) passed away, I recently visited his home and it is difficult to express my sadness from my heart.
The Qingyan tie on the second vase can be translated as follows:
Knowing that the Shu State is a rather peaceful region, and have great harvests for many years in succession producing crops that no other places can grow, along with its name well-known since the ancient times and its magnificent landscape, how can I not pay a visit?
Two vases also belonging to this group, both decorated with a deer under a large pine tree, the reverse of one similarly inscribed with an extract from the Shiqi tie and other from Sun Guoting’s Shupu, both with the same seals as the present vases, were sold at Christie’s new York, 19th/20th September 2013, lot 1313; and another depicting two magpies perched on a blossoming plum tree, the reverse inscribed in cursive script with a poem, together with the Taocheng Tang seal and a seal reading Wu Pei zhi (made by Wu Pei), was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 8th October 2013, lot 3186. See also a smaller vase of similar form, decorated in underglaze blue and red with five deer standing under a tall pine tree, but lacking an inscription and seals, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 23th May 1971, lot 1261.
Further vessels bearing the Taocheng Tang seal include a vase of related form but with rounded shoulder, decorated with a peony branch and inscription in clerical script on the reverse, as well as a seal reading Wu Fu (Hall of Wu), in the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III) Shanghai, 2000, pl. 196 (fig. 1); and a brushpot inscribed with Sun Guoting’s Shupu as well as a seal reading Dianhu dugong, with a Qianlong reign mark and of the period, in the National Museum of China, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo Guojia Bowuguan Guancang Wenwu Yanjiu Congshu [Studies on the collections of the National Museum of China], Ciqi juan [Porcelain section]: Qingdai [Qing dynasty], Shanghai, 2007, pl. 86 (fig. 2). A celadon-glazed garlic-mouth vase with a two-character Taocheng mark to the base was sold at Christie’s London, 12th November 2002, lot 64.
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