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    Sale 2108

    The Imperial Wardrobe: Fine Chinese Costume And Textiles From The Linda Wrigglesworth Collection

    19 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 150

    A FINE AND RARE KESI TABLE FRONTAL

    KANGXI PERIOD (1662-1722)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A FINE AND RARE KESI TABLE FRONTAL
    KANGXI PERIOD (1662-1722)
    Finely woven on the lower rectangular section with four large peonies, prunus and magnolia issuing from a rocky foreground from which grow lingzhi fungus, below bands of wispy clouds, the pelmet woven with eight peaches and five bats flanking a central double dragon medallion surrounding a peach superimposed with a shou character, all picked out in shades of red, blue, green, yellow and brown against a rich gold ground, within black and gold angular dragon scroll borders
    34¾ x 39½ in. (90 x 100 cm.)


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    The upper section of this exquisitely woven table frontal is decorated with classic Chinese symbols of happiness and longevity. The longevity symbolism of the peach is derived from its association with the most important female deity in Chinese mythology, Xi Wangmu (Mother Goddess of the West), who grew peaches of immortality in her gardens in the Western Paradise. The number of peaches, nine, counting the central peach, is also significant, as it is the highest yang (male principle) number and shares the same pronunciation as the Chinese word for "eternity" (jiu). The central shou (longevity) medallion reinforces this theme. The bat is a symbol of happiness and good fortune, as the word for happiness (fu), is pronounced the same as the word for bat.

    The undulating chi dragons flanking the central peach are a common motif on wares made for the Court, and strongly suggests an Imperial attribution.

    The combination of white magnolia (yulan) crab apple (haitang) and peony (fuguihua) express the wish "May your noble house be blessed with wealth and honor" (yutang fugui). See T. T. Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006, p. 153, no. 6.28.3. The author goes on to state that "the combination of the first character of 'magnolia' (yulan) and the second character of 'crab apple' (haitong) form a rebus for 'jade hall' (yutang), an honorific term for a rich home." The peony, "the king of flowers," represents prosperity, and is associated with the upper classes of society.
    Compare the similarly woven kesi panel decorated with peonies and pheasants dated to the Kangxi period illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 52 - Embroidered Pictures, Beijing, 2005, pp. 168-9, no. 90.

    Provenance

    Private Australian collection.