A gathering of four distinctively different fishes can be read as a pun rebus design expressing an admonishing message ‘qing bai lian jie 清白廉洁’, which literally means ‘pure, unblemished, incorruptible, and clean’. The name of ‘qingyu 青鱼’, literally ‘blue fish’, …
Many museums and auction houses are often unaware of the pun rebuses hidden in traditional Chinese pictures and have treated them as mere naturalistic ones. Thus, the cultural and social significance contained in the motifs are unfortunately overlooked. Here is an example of a pun rebus design with four different fishes, which conventionally expresses the idea of ‘May you remain pure, clean, and incorruptible’, but was not recognised by most art institutes.
Have you wondered why you often see an image of a man lying or ‘dancing’ beside a large fish on Chinese antiques? Is it referring to some figure and story in ancient China? Here is Dr Yibin Ni explaining to us the meaning of this touching story that reveals the traditional Chinese virtue of filial piety.
Also called ‘ba bao’ (八宝), ‘ba rui xiang’ (八瑞相), or ‘ji xiang ba bao’(吉祥八宝). There are eight emblems in traditional Tibetan Buddhism symbolising happiness and spiritual well-being: Dharma wheel, conch shell, parasol, lotus, treasure vase, golden fish, victory banner, and endless knot.
What is the value of deciphering pictorial scenes on traditional Chinese artworks? What is the importance in identifying correct figures and story scenes on antiques? Here is the editor’s conversation with Dr Yibin Ni, an internationally renowned researcher on Chinese iconography.