Bowls of this motif are unusual although two other pairs are known: the first, included in the Kau Chi Society exhibition Ancient Chinese Ceramics, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1981, cat. no. 116, and sold in our London rooms, 11th July 1978, lot 214, and again in these rooms, 1st November 1994, lot 138, and the second, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 25th October 1993, lot 775. A related motif of cranes is also known from the outsides of dishes of Yongzheng mark and period, which on the interior are similarly painted with a flowering peach tree; see for example a dish, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in the Museum’s exhibition Good Fortune, Long Life, Health and Peace: A Special Exhibition of Porcelains with Auspicious Designs, Taipei, 1995, cat. no. 66; another in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Qingdai yuyao ciqi [Porcelains from the Qing dynasty imperial kilns], Beijing, 2005, vol. I, pt. II, pl. 49; and another sold in these rooms, 12th/13th May 1976, lot 145.
Compare also a cup of Yongzheng mark and period similarly painted with eight cranes, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 19th March 1991, lot 561; a pair of bowls with a similar crane design painted in the doucai palette, in the Chang Foundation, Taipei, illustrated in James Spencer, Selected Chinese Ceramics from Han to Qing Dynasties, Taipei, 1990, pl. 134; and a further doucai cup sold in these rooms, 28th April 1992, lot 220.
This motif is highly auspicious. Cranes are symbolic of immortality, and therefore eight cranes reference the Eight Immortals. The flowering peach tree further strengthens this association, and their appearance together expresses the pun heshou yannian, which can be translated as ‘May the crane and peaches extend your years’.
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