Bowls painted with this motif in iron red are rare, and only another closely related example appears to be known: from the Meiyintang collection, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 2, London, 1994, pl. 785, and sold in these rooms, 7th April 2011, lot 5.
Sprays of fruiting pomegranate, peach and lychee represent a variation of the auspicious sanduo (‘three abundances’) motif, the lychee here replacing the more common finger citron. The lychee and pomegranate are both harbingers of an abundance of offspring: a pomegranate bursting with seeds expresses the wish for a hundred sons (liukai baizi), whilst the word for lychee (lizhi) is homophonous with “establishing a son” (lizi). The peach is a fruit associated with the goddess Xiwangmu, the Queen Mother of the West, in whose orchard peaches take 3,000 years to blossom and another to ripen, and hence peaches symbolise the wish for longevity.
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