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Underglaze red and blue late Qing dynasty "Wu fu" dish

This is a rare bowl, with underglaze red and blue decoration of five bats among clouds. The rarity is not that much in the decoration, which is quite popular during the 19th century, but more in the fact that the Chinese porcelain potter have decided to go through the trouble and the high failure rate of using underglaze copper red in the decoration.

Why this was important could be seen by looking closer at the symbolic meaning of the decoration, which could be read as "hong wu fu yun" or "May immense amounts of the five blessings fall upon you" where the symbols in the decoration stands for hong=red/immense and the color of joy, wu=five, fu=bats/happiness and yun=clouds/you.

The "five blessings" are old age, wealth, health, love of virtue, and a natural death.

The mark reads "Da Qing Qianlong Nian Zhi" i.e. Qianlong (1736-95) period and is of "non-imperial" quality.

Provincial pieces are always hard to put an exact date on. Some collectors are prepared to accept this dish as of the Qianlong period. It might well be so. My personal view after doing some thinking and comparing with other pieces with similar mark I would prefer to have it as a slightly later piece.

This would in any case have very little importance to the price of the dish which I feel should only relate to its quality and collector's interest.

Opinions and further information is as always welcome.

Sincerely,
Jan-Erik Nilsson



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