- Museum number
Porcelain 'sheng' bottle with underglaze blue decoration. This 'sheng' has a plump pear-shaped upper section, narrow waist, square lower section which tapers towards the foot and a square recessed base. Each side of the lower section is painted with two of the Eight Daoist Immortals in a landscape setting. Clockwise these are: Lan Caihe, carrying a basket of flowers, and Han Xiangzi who can make flowers grow instantly; in the second panel Li Tieguai, the popular god of financial acumen, holding a gourd from which a magic vapour escapes, and Zhongli Quan who has the power to resurrect the dead through his possession of the elixir of life; in the third panel He Xiangu, seen holding a lotus, and Lii Dongbin, depicted with his magic sword strapped to his back; and in the final panel Zhang Guolao, carrying a 'yugu', a musical instrument comprising a cylindrical bamboo drum and two crutch-shaped drum sticks, and Cao Guojiu brandishing castanets. On the corners at the shoulder are 'ruyi' cloud motifs. Around the waist of the sheng vase are six different individual flower sprays.
The upper section shows four roundels, each containing an immortal surrounded by 'ruyi' cloud motifs. These may all be the same immortal, Liu Hai, shown with his string of coins with which he enticed his magic three-legged wart-backed toad out of the well. He holds a scroll with a yin-yang symbol, a folded scroll or fan, and carries a double gourd containing the elixir of immortality. Such auspicious popular Daoist imagery suggests that the vase may have been made as a well-wishing gift for long life and success. Alternatively this may be 'The Four Immortals Honouring the God of Longevity', showing Liu Hai with his toad, Li Tieguai with the crutch, Han Shan with a scroll riding a leaf and Shi De who rides a broom.
- Production date
- 1540-1600 (circa)
Diameter: 14 centimetres (maximum)
Height: 34.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Harrison-Hall 2001:
A series of paintings of these immortals was made by Shang Xi in the 1430s and is now in the collections of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. The base is glazed but unmarked.
This 'sheng' shape was introduced to the ceramic repertoire in the Jiajing era. The tone of cobalt blue and the painting style confirm the attribution.
- Not on display
- Registration number