Pinyin English

Decorative Designs in Chinese Art 中国文物的纹饰

Fire Design 火纹
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Late Period 晚期

In the Ming, the production of jade artifacts increased greatly along with the booming hand craft industry and related commercial trade. Accordingly, jade artifacts became more popular. Taoism was popularized. Designs with symbols of luck and prosperity were most common.

Ornament with lotus and egret design
公元1271〜1368北京首都博物馆
Ornament with lotus and egret design
Yuan (1271—1368), Shanghai Museum

Ming symbols of good luck included the Eight Immortals 八仙, characters for longevity 寿 and happiness , peach, lingzhi 灵芝, deer, crane, and mandarin ducks.

Ornament with parrot design
公元1368〜1644上海博物馆
Ornament with parrot design
Ming (1368—1644), Shanghai Museum

Deers symbolize longevity and are, supposedly, the only animals able to find lingzhi 灵芝, a fungus known for longevity in Chinese tradition. Horns of deer are puverized and made into medicinal pills.

Jade ornament with three sheep symbolizing an auspicious new year
公元1368〜1644苏州博物馆
Jade ornament with sheep symbolizing an auspicious new year
Ming (1368—1644), Suzhou Museum

The ornament below has a chi and phoenix design. A chi can be described as a serpent or a kind of dragon with no horns.

a dragon with horns not yet grown
公元1368〜1644上海博物馆
Ornament with chi (serpent) and phoenix design
Ming (1368—1644), Shanghai Museum

The flower and plant designs 花卉纹 in the are popular in other mediums as well, especially porcelain. The pendant below was discovered in a Jin Dynasty tomb in the Fangshan District, Beijing.

a pendant / a girdle ornament
清朝(1644〜1911年) 首都博物馆
Jade Pendant with Dragon and Cloud Designs
Qing Dynasty (1,644—1,911), Capital Museum

A ruyi 如意 is a curved ceremonial object similar to a sceptre that symbolizes power and good fortune. Ruyi may be originated in India and been transmitted to China with Buddhism. The ruyi below has three pieces of white jade inlaid into the wood sceptre.

Sceptre with inlaid jade
清朝(1644〜1911年) 苏州博物馆
Sceptre with three white jade inlays
Qing Dynasty (1,644—1,911), Suzhou Museum

Snuff bottles 鼻烟 with delicate carved designs are relatively common Chinese antiques. The picture below shows an agate snuff bottle.

Agate snuff bottle
清朝(1644〜1911年) 苏州博物馆
Agate snuff bottle
Qing Dynasty (1,644—1,911), Suzhou Museum
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