A set of three iron-red-decorated blue and white wine cups, Qianlong four-character seal marks in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795)

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A set of three iron-red-decorated blue and white wine cups, Qianlong four-character seal marks in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795)Estimate 6,000 – $8,000. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015

Each has deep sides decorated on the exterior in underglaze blue with Shoulao seated on a deer and Xiwangmu seated on a phoenix facing each other amidst clouds on a ground of iron-red waves, and on the interior with a central medallion of a shou character encircled by the wufu on a similar wave ground. The rim is gilded. 2 ¼ in. (5.7 cm.) diam., box

NotesThe Daoist longevity theme employed by the depictions of both Shoulao and Xiwangmu, Queen Mother of the West, who resides in the Western Paradise where peaches were thought to provide immortality, represents that this set of cups may have been intended as a birthday gift. The wish is reinforced by the inclusion of a shou (long life) medallion on the interior of the cups. The five bats (wufu) encircling the shou medallions represent the five blessings of a rich and full life: longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue, and a natural death.

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