This previously unidentified scene was most likely inspired by the drama Xi Liu Ying by the Yuan dramatist Zheng Guangzu. It depicts the Han Emperor Wen with Zhou Yafu. Zhou Yafu was the son of Zhou Bo, who had been Prime Minister to Emperor Wen (r. 179-156 BC). Zhou Ya fu served Wen's successor, Emperor Jing (r. 156-41 BC), under whose rule the king of Wu started the rebellion of Seven Kingdoms. Loyal to the Emperor, as his father had been, Zhou Yafu put down the rebellion. As well as his loyalty, Zhou Yafu is also known for his cunning in refusing to enter into battle with the rebels until the latter were weakened by hunger. For a further discussion of this scene see the introductory essay in this catalogue, p. 27.
This theme appears on two blue and white Yuan dynasty jars, one exhibited at the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka in 1997, and another from the collection of Baron Ito in Japan, but no longer extant (see Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, Blue and White in East Asia, Osaka, 1997, no. 6, and Kikutaro Saito, Kobijutsu 1967, no. 18, p. 39, fig. 16, respectively).