A closely related pair of doucai cups was sold at Christie's New York, 21st September 2000, lot 359. For slightly larger bowls of this type, see one in the Nanjing Museum illustrated in The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, p. 165; a pair from the Paul and Helen Bernat collection sold in these rooms, 15th November 988, lot 1, and again at Christie's Hong Kong, 20th March 1990, lot 656; another pair sold twice in these rooms, 29th October 2001, lot 511, and again, 2nd May 2005, lot 602; and a single bowl sold in these rooms, 1st November 1994, lot 70, and again at Christie's Hong Kong, 27th May 2009, lot 1874. Compare also another pair of similar form and design, but decorated with iron-red bats amid underglaze-blue clouds, from the Edward T. Chow collection, sold in these rooms, 25th November 1980, lot 126.
The motif of bats and clouds represents the wish for 'vast happiness piled up to the sky'. The symbol of a red bats combined with coloured clouds represents the upper limits of heaven (hongfu qitian). The clouds also form a pun, since the word for 'cloud' (yun) sounds like the word for 'luck'. See a Qianlong covered jar with the same decorative doucai motif included in the Min Chiu Society exhibition, Joined Colours: Decoration and Meaning in Chinese Porcelain, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington D.C., 1993, cat. no. 71.
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