The auspicious phoenix, chief among birds, also symbolizes the empress. It is associated with bamboo as well as the wutong tree, and both the phoenix and bamboo symbolize peace.
Water pots of this type, with droppers, are usually of animal or bird form, the partially hollowed body of the creature forming a perfect receptacle for the water. A small circular aperture in the back is then fitted with a tubular dropper for the application of the water to an inkstone. This was achieved by placing a finger over the small air hole at the top of the dropper, allowing the tube to draw up water, and then releasing the water onto the inkstone. A water pot and dropper of this type in the shape of a toad carved on the sides with four of the Five Poisonous Creatures, with the fifth Creature, the spider, surmounting the dropper, is illustrated by G. Tsang and H. Moss in Arts of the Scholar's Studio, Oriental Ceramic Society, Hong Kong, 1986, pp. 222-23, no. 206, where it is dated Ming dynasty or earlier. Another water pot of this type, also dated Ming dynasty, 16th century or earlier, is illustrated, p. 159, no. 131. It is in the shape of a tuolong (a mythical creature combining the shape of a tortoise and a dragon) surrounded by waves. A circular aperture in the back would have been fitted with a now-missing dropper. Another phoenix-form water pot with peach-surmounted dropper in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is illustrated by M. Knight et al., Later Chinese Jades, Asian Art Museum, 2007, p. 267, no. 289, where it is dated Qing dynasty. See, also, the water pot in the shape of a duck, its head turned back to rest beside the duckling that surmounts the dropper, illustrated by R. Keverne in Jade, New York, 1991, p. 207, fig. 14 (bottom).