This pair of Chinese hand painted blue and white covered jars can be dated to the second half of the 19th century during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Fully painted with a bird-and-flower theme, this lovely pair of jars are rich in symbolism. On the body of each jar, we can identify a large peony flower in full bloom, which sends a symbolic message of beauty and prestige to its viewers. Above the peony, a butterfly lingers on a beautiful blossom. “Butterfly lingering on a flower” (die lian hua), originating in classical poetry, has been a beloved romantic pattern in Chinese decorative arts for hundreds of years. It represents touching and tangled love. The peony is flanked by a pair of magpies (xi que), and this creature is deemed an auspicious bird symbolizing happiness. On the lower part of the jar, more plants signifying good omens are found. Citrus or “Buddhist hand” fruit symbolizes longevity, whereas pomegranate stands for fertility due to its numerous seeds.
The overall decorations on the jars are typical of the second half of the 19th century. During this period, Qing potters would adorn their vessels with a great variety of auspicious creatures and flora to appeal to the taste of their Chinese domestic clientele. The floral patterns on the lid echo the bird-and-flower theme on the body. The freehand painting style of the unknown flowers adds a sense of freedom and spontaneity to the beautiful jars.
The base of each jar is inscribed with a double-ring seal mark reading “Made in the Qianlong Reign” (Qian long nian zhi).
Diameter 6.5″ at widest point, height 10.75″