ENQUIRIES: +(65) 6291 7788

Blue and white porcelain vase with phoenixes and peonies



Height: approx. 45cm | Width: approx. 25cm | Condition: Mint


Blue and white porcelain (chinese: ⻘花, pronounced ‘qīng huā’; translation: blue flowers) — white porcelain with intricate cobalt blue designs, with the decorative blue pigment commonly applied onto the white porcelain by hand, stencilling or transfer-printing — is thought to have originated from China around the 14th Century primarily in Jingdezhen (Jingde city). Jingdezhen, which was located within the Jiangxi province, was the key production centre for export porcelain during that era. Although fragments of blue and white wares were found and traced to the beginning of the Tang dynasty (618-907), it was not until the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) that the art reached perfection, resulting in the accruement of its origins to 14th Century China. Blue and white porcelain became vastly popular during the Qing dynasty, particularly under the rule of its fourth emperor, Emperor Kangxi (1661 – 1722), and remained a key export of China to the Middle Eastern and European markets up to the late 18th Century at the end of Emperor Qianlong’s reign. The painting on this porcelain vase is of two phoenixes perched on a tree surrounded by peonies in bloom, a propitious illustration to many. Mythological origins of the phoenix depicts it as a type of celestial power sent from the heavens to the Empress. Thus, when a house is decorated with depictions of the phoenix, it symbolised that the people who dwelled in that house were loyal and honest. An alternative interpretation would be as such: a phoenix only stays where the ruler is without darkness and corruption (Chinese: 政治清明, pronounced ‘zhèng zhì qīng míng’). Images of this ancient bird have appeared in China since the Hongshan neolithic period as motifs on jade and pottery as well as on decorative bronze figurines. The coupling of two phoenixes together, one generally thought of to be a male (referred to in Chinese as ‘feng’, 鳳) while the other a female (referred to in Chinese as ‘huang’, 凰), is believed to be a strong symbol of good luck. When the male and female phoenixes are positioned to face each other, the fenghuang represents the direction of the South.

They are also fortuitous symbols of high virtue, grace, peace, and prosperity, and represents the union of yin and yang. Each part of the fenghuang’s body is thought to portray a word. The head represents virtue (Chinese: 德, pronounced ‘dé’); the wing, duty (Chinese: 義, pronounced ‘yì’); the back, propriety (Chinese: 禮, pronounced ‘lì’); the abdomen, credibility (Chinese: 信, pronounced ‘xin’); and the chest, mercy (Chinese: 仁, pronounced ‘ren’). The peonies that surrounds the phoenixes only reinforces to the emblematic meaning this vase, especially since they are both iconic motifs in the Chinese culture. As a flower associated with the springtime, its association with the phoenix may be interpreted as an auspicious symbol for marriage and fertility. On its own, the tree peony (Chinese: 牡丹, pronounced ‘mu dan’) signifies the third month of the lunar calendar and is associated with longevity, loyalty, happiness and eternal beauty. Occasionally, the peony may grow as a double, which gives it the appearance of strings of monetary coins, leading men to also associate the peony as a flower of prosperity and wealth. For this reason, the peony has gained an alternative name, fuguihua (富贵花), which translates to “flower of wealth and honour”. A tree peony portrayed in a vase (Chinese: 瓶, pronounced ‘píng’), however, represents wealth and honour, attributed to the peony, and has the additional hidden meaning of peace, because the vase is a rebus for the word peace in the Chinese language (Chinese: 平 安, pronounced ‘píng ān’).


Please inquire and get in touch via our CONTACT US page