Fish appeared as decoration on Chinese ceramics as early as the Neolithic period, and have remained a popular theme in Chinese ceramics in both shape and decoration. In fact, paintings of fish were esteemed at the Chinese court as early as the Northern Song period (960-1279), where members of the Song imperial clan were known to paint fish in their spare time. Much of its popularity as a decorative motif, especially in later dynasties, hinges on the fact that the word for fish (yu) is a homophone for the word for abundance, and the word for carp (li) a homophone for the word for profit. Traditionally, large basins like the present ones were used as fishbowls, the arrangement of enamelled fish and aquatic plants to the interior adding to the effect. In Europe they were used on their own as magnificent pieces embellishing an interior or, for more functional purposes, as jardinières.