CATALOGUE NUMBERS 0740-0743
SET OF FOUR FAMILLE VERTE GRADUATED SQUARE-FORM CUPS
KANGXI PERIOD (1661-1722)
Widest: 3 ⅝ inches
Berwald Oriental Art, London, 2000
A set of four graduated cups decorated in famille verte enamels. Of square form, the straight sides flaring out towards the top. Each cup is decorated with a figural scene on each of the four sides contained within a simple iron red frame. The scenes on the three largest cups show several of the "Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup" at different stages of imbibing alcohol from square cups including the devout Buddhist Su Jin venerating a statue of Buddha and the celebrated poet Li Taipo, with his yellow winepot, who drowned in A.D. 762 in a drunken effort to embrace the reflection of the moon. The smallest cup is painted with four representations of Liu Hai, a Minister of State of the 10th century, and a poisonous three-legged toad which lived in a deep pool and exuded a vapor which made the people ill. Liu Hai is said to have lured the creature out with a string of gold cash and destroyed it.
The "Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup" of the Tang dynasty (618-906A.D.) were celebrated in a famous poem by the Tang poet Du Fu (712-770) and were a popular subject on early Kangxi period porcelains. These four cups seem to be moralizing on the evils of drink and money as the poem tells of the misfortunes which occurred to the Immortals when they became drunk.