A large blue and white 'Three friends of winter' jar, Jiajing six-character mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1522-1566)

8

9

7

A large blue and white 'Three friends of winter' jar, Jiajing six-character mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1522-1566)Estimate $150,000 – $250,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015.

The heavily potted jar is decorated around the sides with a pine tree, a prunus tree and bamboo (the 'Three Friends of Winter'), growing amidst lingzhi, their trunks twisted to form stylized auspicious characters, fu, lu and shou, all below a linked ruyi border and detached ruyi clouds on the short neck. The reign mark is painted on the recessed center of the base. 13 ½ in. (34.3 cm.) high, 16 in. (40.7 cm.) diam., Japanese wood box

NotesThe decoration on this jar, pine, prunus and bamboo, known as the 'The Three Friends of Winter', or simply 'The Three Friends', symbolizes the strength, purity and uprightness of the cultivated gentleman, and is often found on porcelain throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. Fu lu shou, which has an auspicious meaning (good fortune, wealth, longevity), also refers to the Three Star Gods, Happiness, Rank, and Longevity. 

Two related Jiajing-marked jars from the Alfred Clark Collection, though of more slender form, painted with the 'Three Friends of Winter' forming fu and shou characters, were sold at Christie's London, 7 June 1993, lot 49.

Christie's. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 17 - 18 September 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza