Lot 1343. A rare blue and white 'monkey and deer' circular box and cover, Wanli period (1573-1619); 8 ¾ in. (22.2 cm.) diam. Estimate USD 30,000 - USD 40,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2018
The slightly raised center of the cover is decorated in dark underglaze blue with two deer standing below a peach tree in which a monkey is disturbing a wasp nest while the other stands below ready to catch it. The sides are decorated with four quatrefoil panels of birds perched on blossoming branches above a key-fret border repeated on the box above a frieze of six horses leaping between clouds above a band of wind-tossed waves and a narrow band of scroll encircling the foot ring, Japanese wood box.
Provenance: Takayanagi Collection, Tokyo.
Note: The imagery on this box and cover is highly auspicious. The Chinese words for monkey (hou) and wasp (feng) form a pun that wishes speedy advancement to the rank of marquis. The deer (lu) represent a desire for good fortune or professional success, and are also being associated with immortality, since deer were believed to be able to find lingzhi fungus which is a much favored symbol of immortality.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 13 - 14 September 2018