Painted with a lively design of five boys playfully fighting for a helmet, the scene represents the wish for sons to attain ‘first place’ in the civil service examinations. It references the story of the five eminent sons of Dou Yujun, who achieved exceptional success in the civil service examinations. Dou, a scholar, educator and official, lived at Yanshan during the Five Dynasties period and was revered as the ideal parent for successfully raising five outstanding sons.
Vases of this type, with auspicious designs enamelled between coloured borders, were produced in a variety of forms and coloured grounds; see a globular vase with tall neck also decorated with boys between turquoise borders, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th October 2010, lot 2162; and another sold at Christie’s New York, 4th May 1978, lot 279. Compare also a larger pair of Daoguang mark and period jars, painted with the ‘hundred boys’ design, against a pink-enamel ground, sold at Christie’s London, 15th May 2012, lot 338.
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