The present figures depict Liu Hai one of the gods of wealth. After C.A.S. Williams, Outlines of Chinese Symbolism and Motives, New York, 1976, p. 403, Liu Hai was said to have been a Minister of state during the 10th century a.d. It was claimed that he had a mystical three-legged toad that would take him anywhere he wanted to go. Every so often the creature escaped down a well and Liu Hai had to fish him out with a line baited with gold coins. He is usually represented with one foot resting on the toad and holding a string of five gold cash in his hand. This design is deemed most auspicious and conductive to good fortune. Another version of the story however, is that the toad lived in a deep pool and exuded dangerous poisonous vapors. Liu Hai was said to have hooked the creature with a strand of cash and destroyed it. The moral of the story being money greedy can lead to ruin. Personifying prosperity Liu Hai was venerated as patron deity by Chinese merchants and traders. Originally intended for the domestic market, images of Liu Hai became quickly a popular motif in the export trade that is known in several variations, of which such fine famille rose examples like in the present lot are rare.