A slightly smaller teapot and cover of similar design was sold in these rooms, 29th November 1979, lot 419, and again at Christie’s Hong Kong, 29th April 1996, lot 706; one of more compressed form is illustrated in John Ayers, The Baur Collection, Geneva, 1976, pl. B 76; another was sold in our New York rooms, 24th October 1980, lot 63; and a further teapot was sold at Christie’s London, 17th December 1981, lot 453.
This design on this piece is closely associated with academic success – the recumbent bird carved on the knob is an egret lu, homophonic with the Chinese word for road, whilst the lotus, lian and its seeds ke, are a pun for lianke, a phrase that can be translated as “passing the civil service examinations, one after the other”. Together, these symbols form the rebus yilu lianke, “May you pass your civil service exams all the way”.
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