Previously sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 15 November 1989, lot 515, and again at Christie's Hong Kong, 29 October 2001, lot 534.
The inscription may be translated as:
The great bell rings from the darkened chamber;
(its sound) floats above the tiles and down to the middle hall.
Who said that by striking my hand with ease;
I can command such thunderous sound?
The style of decoration depicting prunus and nandina is very similar to that on the cover of a rectangular zitan box, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, The Imperial Sale, 30 April 2000, lot 610. The rectangular box is also inscribed with a poem. The floral depiction of nandina and prunus is an imagery of the heralding of Spring. Nandina is a plant that bears red berries and is often combined with plum blossoms in floral arrangements or traditionally grown together in the garden. For a discussion on this floral combination, see T. Tse Bartholomew, 'Botanical Puns in Chinese Art', Orientations, vol. 16, no. 9, September 1985, pp. 18-34.