Scooping the moon from the golden basin
In the Buddhist legend, at the beginning there was nothing but water in the world. Vajrapani ordered his disciples to scoop the ocean to see what was hidden there. The sun appeared in the first scoop and Vajrapani fixed the sun in the sky to light the day. In the second scoop, there appeared the moon and Vajrapani placed it in the sky so that it can brighten the night. There might be a connection between this legend and a women’s leisure activity in ancient China, recorded on the surface of various forms of artworks. A well-dressed lady standing in front of a water basin trying to scoop the reflection of the moon in a garden setting during the full moon days, waited on by some maids nearby.
Fig 1-2: blue-and-white porcelain vase, Kangxi period (1662 – 1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Freer Gallery of Art