For a large blue and white double-gourd vase of Qianlong mark and period, but without handles, see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Shanghai, 2000, pl. 227. Compare also the better-known tea-dust glazed examples of the same form as the present piece, one in Illustrated Catalogue of Ch'ing Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum, Republic of China: Ch'ien-lung Ware and Other Wares, Tokyo, 1981, no. 80; one in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 938; one exhibited in Monochrome Ceramics of Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, Min Chiu Society, Hong Kong, 1977, cat. no. 100; and one sold in these rooms 17th and 18th May 1988, lot 238. A blue-glazed example with gilt lotus scrolls is published in Porcelain of the National Palace Museum: Fine Enamelled Ware of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Chien-Lung Period, Hong Kong, 1969, pls. 15, 15a and 15b. A celadon-glazed example with moulded lotus scrolls was included in Ching Wan Society Millennium Exhibition, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 2000, cat. no. 106.
For a double-gourd flask of closely related form, compare an exquisite famille-rose example of Qianlong mark and period, exhibited at the British Museum, London, 1994, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 962, sold in these rooms 16th November 1988, lot 368, at Christie's Hong Kong, 19th March 1991, lot 607, and again in these rooms 5th Oct 2011, lot 23.
Compare also a 14th-century celadon double-gourd vase without handles from Longquan kilns in Zhejiang, illustrated in Asada ke z¿hin tenkan ny¿satsu [Exhibition for Auction of Objects Collected by the Asada Family], Tokyo, 1934, no. 168, and Regina Krahl, op. cit., vol. 4, no. 1607; sold twice in these rooms, 2nd May 2005, lot 676, and 5th October 2011, lot 6.
The double gourd, hulu, was widely viewed in the Ming and Qing dynasties as auspicious, its large number of seeds representing fertility and the wish for numerous sons. It was also an important symbol in Daoism, particularly associated with Li Tieguai, one of the Eight Immortals, who is often depicted with a double gourd at his waist containing elixir of immortality. In addition, the name of the shape, hulu, forms a rebus with the phrase fulu, meaning happiness and prosperity through government positions.
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