Archive item - not for sale
Chinese blue and white moulded teabowl and saucer, Kangxi (1662-1722), with gently undulating rims, the teabowl exterior decorated with swirling panels containing landscape scenes alternating with blossoming lotus, the interior with central floral spray, the saucer with further swirling panels containing landscape scenes and flowers to the rim, the central roundel with a phoenix in flight amongst scrolling peony; the bases with a conch shell within concentric double circles
The conch shell is a symbol connected with royalty, while both the phoenix and peony are associated more specifically with the Empress. In ancient China, the fenghuang had consisted of two separate entities to represent yin and yang; the male bird (鳳, feng) and female (凰 huang), but during the Ming the two gradually merged to become the symbol of female royalty, while the dragon was associated with the Emperor. Owing to Empress Wu’s alleged appreciation for the flower during the Tang Dynasty, peonies also came to symbolize feminine royalty and are still celebrated every year at a festival held in Jingshan Park, the former Imperial garden.