Archive item - not for sale
Chinese blue and white baluster vase, Kangxi (1662-1722), decorated in underglaze cobalt blue with a continuous scene of scholars and boys; the young literati in the background seated at tables and engaged in games of go and playing the guqin, another group appreciating a painting of bamboo; the young boys in the foreground chasing one another and flying a kite, all within a fenced rocky garden, beribboned babao to the rim.
A vase with a very similar design is in the British Museum (registration no.: Franks.439.+)
This vase, with its symbolism of learning and joyous play, is a celebration of the free literati spirit. Channelling the delight of the boys playing freely in the foreground of the painting, the scholars are engaged in traditional, spontaneous and unconstrained activities. The ancient scholars of Chinese culture were free from the confines of court and restrictive artistic schools, and could pursue a spontaneous approach to life and art. From ancient times, they were reported to meet in remote spots to play music, appreciate art and discuss philosophy. This freedom and the scholarly ideal came to be venerated during the Kangxi period, and thus the scholar motif became a popular aspect of ceramic design.