A Chinese famille rose plate decorated with the Xi Xiang ji. Yongzheng

The plate decorated in the famille rose palette, with a central panel with four figures in a luxury setting. On the rim are painted flowers and butterflies.

Period :
Yongzheng (1723-1735)
8.66 in. (23 cm)
Reference :


The decoration of the plate is depicting four figures in a luxurious lifestyle., outside a pavilion. The lady at the opening of the window is Cui Yingying and the man on the far left is Zhang Sheng.

A man on the right of the scene is holding a small and portable gong, which is a common Chinese musical instrument. The lady on the left is holding two sticks and a waist drum, hanging from her waist. The man and the lady are here to play gongs and drums together to interfere with and prevent Zhang Sheng and Yingying’s tryst.

Xi Xiang Ji is a well-known tale, with origins in the 8th/9th Century, written in the Yuan Dynasty (13th/14th Century) as a play. It has remained popular ever since, and has been reprinted many times. It is the woodblock prints used to illustrate the text which have, throughout the ages, inspired the decoration of scenes from the tale on porcelain The story tells of the romance between Zhang Sheng, a talented but poor scholar, and Cui Yingying, a beautiful maiden, whose mother will not allow the couple to marry, and sends Zhang away to the capital to seek scholarly success. While on his way to take the civil service examination, Zhang is instrumental in rescuing Yingying from a group of bandits. Her hand in marriage had been offered by her mother to whoever could save her, but she subsequently reneges on her promise. In the end he is successful and claims Yingying as his bride.

The scene depicting here take place at the moment Cui’s mother (Yingying’s mother) regrets her wedding. She went back and beat the mandarin ducks, trying to break up Zhang Sheng and Yingying. This was the lake that broke them up.

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