Prunus Vase with the Blue-and-White Painting of Four Hobbies and the Inscription of'Made in Wanli's Reign of Ming'


This pair of blue-and-white prunus vases was unearthed from the joint cemetery of Wenlinlang Liu Yuanshi and his wife of the Ming Dynasty in March, 1977. They are dignified and upright in modeling. The shoulders are inscribed with six characters in regular script meaning "made in Wanli's Reign of Ming". The font is neat in proportion and forceful. The themed design on the belly is the painting of "four hobbies" of ancient scholars and nobility.

The painting of "four hobbies" depicts the interests of four famous scholars in the history of China, which have been used as decorations. Generally speaking, they are: Wang Xizhi's interest in goose; Tao Yuanming's love for chrysanthemum; Meng Haoran's interest in plum blossoms and Zhou Dunyi's love for lotus. Sometimes figures related to the "four hobbies" might change based on artistic conceptions of the painting. For instance, for some time, the one that loves plum is Lin Hejing; and sometimes "Yu Boya's love for Chinese zither" would also be included. This painting depicts exactly Yu Boya's love for Chinese zither instead of Wang Xizhi's interest in goose. This pair of vases is unique in modeling with clear and definite age, which proves to be rare and precious official wares made in Wanli's Reign of Ming.