Fashioned from a highly translucent white jade stone, carvings of boys with lotus were popular from the Song to the Qing dynasties as the motif is steeped in auspicious symbolism. The word for boy (zi) and lotus (lian) forms the rebus lian sheng gui zi, which expresses the wish of the continuous birth of prestigious sons. In the catalogue to the exhibition Chinese Jades from Han to Ch’ing, James C.Y. Watt notes that during the Qixi festival, which occurred on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, ‘the streets of the city, especially in the capitals, would be filled with playing children dressed in waistcoats and holding a lotus leaf or plant. They were as the records tell us, imitating the mo-hou-lo, the cult object of the festival’, p. 110.
Compare a carving of the twin boys, Hehe Erxian, included in the Min Chiu Society exhibition Chinese Jade Carving, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1983, cat. no. 168; another from the collection of Dr Frank Kramer, sold in our New York rooms, 28th/29th September 1989,lot 511; and a third illustrated in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 175, and sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27th November 2007, lot 1571.