Lot 3830. A very rare late Ming yellow-ground green-enamelled incised 'Three friends' bowl, Jiajing six-character mark and of the period (1522-1566); 7 in. (17.8 cm.) diam. Estimate HKD 900,000 - HKD 1,200,000. Price Realized HKD 1,220,000. © Christie's Images Ltd. 2011
The rounded sides finely incised with a bamboo, flower prunus tree and a pine tree, each with their branches twisted to form the characters, Fu, Lu and Shou, 'Happiness, Wealth and Longevity', growing on a ground, evenly spaced between stylised lingzhi fungus under ruyi-shaped clouds, enamelled in green against a rich egg-yolk yellow ground, the interior similarly decorated with an incised upright dragon within a medallion, box.
Note: The present bowl belongs to a very small group of similarly decorated examples with incised decorations that have been enamelled against a different coloured enamel ground. The motifs are cleverly designed on the bowl and effectively conveys multiple meanings to auspicious imagaries. In this instance, whilst the bamboo itself is commonly associated with the virtuous gentleman, it is twisted to form the character Fu or 'Happiness' or 'Blessings'. The flowering prunus - a symbol of spring as it blooms in March - is formed into the character, Lu, or 'Emolument' or 'Wealth'; and finally the pine, a symbol of longevity, is rendered in its written, Shou, form. Furthermore, the combination of the pine, bamboo and prunus forms the "Three Friends of Winter".
Compare with two comparable Jiajing-marked bowls, both incised with figures in landscape on the exterior and interior with floral scrolls: the first illustrated in Enamelled Ware of The Ming Dynasty, Book II, Porcelain of the National Palace Museum, CAFA, 1966, pp. 60-61, pls 7 & 7a; and the other from the Kempe Collection was sold at Sotheby's Paris, 12 June 2008, lot 4. Also compare related smaller bowl with straight rather than everted mouthrims, as with the present and bowls cited above, from the George de Menasce Collection, included in the exhibition, Chinese Art, Venice, 1954, and illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 715, incised with dragon and phoenix.