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Vase

1662-1722
Artist/maker unknown, Chinese

The scene on this vase depicts the Battle of Sishui Pass, an episode from the novel Investiture of the Gods, written in the 1500s. The book, part fact and part fantasy, recounts events that occurred in China during the wars between the Shang and Zhou dynasties more than three thousand years ago.


Literary depictions on porcelains became popular in the 1700s thanks to the novels that had become widely accessible. Artists used woodblock prints illustrating the stories as a source for their designs.


Auspicious Decoration


The neck of this vase holds the three Star Gods—representing Longevity, Happiness, and Wealth—surrounded by young boys, one of which plays the mouth organ. This grouping is a visual pun wishing for the continual advancement of sons within the ranks of officialdom.

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Object Details

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