Roosters and Banana Trees Motifs
Chinese blue and white porcelains have an appealing charm that has long been recognized among collectors due to their unique colours as well as the perfect emulsion of the shape and utility. Additionally, the decorative motifs painted on the porcelain often convey meaningful messages. Lot 593 in this timed auction is a beautiful vase painted with striking motifs of the roosters and the banana trees.
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The rooster and chicken have been admired motifs for a significant period since they were first made during the Chenghua Emperor’s reign (1465 – 1487) partly due to the auspicious message conveyed by the motif. The word for rooster in Chinese is Gōng Jī (公雞) while the word for crowing is Míng (鳴). Together they are homonyms for the Chinese phrase ‘Gōng Míng (功名)’ which means scholarly honour or official rank. Moreoever, by the 17th century, porcelains with rooster designs were typically used as wedding gifts. The porcelain depicting a group of rooster and hen with many offspring makes it a perfect and suitable wedding gift for blessing a couple with happy family life and abundance of children.
The other noteworthy motif in this piece is the banana trees. This pattern was quite popular in the Yuan (1271 – 1368), Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing dynasties (1644 – 1911). The banana tree was cultivated in China in the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – 9 AD). At first, it was only used as a kind of exotic tree for people to appreciate. However, due to the development of Taoism and the introduction of Buddhism, bananas gradually started to contain a profound meaning. In Chinese decorative motifs, the banana tree painted on blue and white porcelain resembles different auspicious meanings. For example, the large leaves of bananas symbolize a successful family business while the hanging bunch of bananas is a symbol of prosperity and unity.
A blue and white porcelain vase painted with roosters under the banana trees
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