May good fortune descend from heaven


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The flying mammal bat is called bian fu (蝙蝠) in Chinese. Image of the bat including its various stylised forms are often used in Chinese art to express an auspicious meaning, as ‘蝠 fu’ in ‘蝙蝠’ puns on ‘福 fu’ which means ‘good luck’, ‘good fortune’, and/or ‘happiness’ in Chinese. Therefore, one or more bats flying in the sky towards people is an auspicious pun rebus design popular in traditional China.

Related Pun Pictures:

May unexpected good luck descend on you! 喜从天降


Fig 1: 钟馗图轴, hanging scroll, ink and light colour on paper, Zhang Feng (张风, ? – 1662), courtesy of the Palace Museum, Beijing

Fig 2: album leaf (detail), ink and colour on paper, Jiao Bingzhen (焦秉贞, active 1689–1726), courtesy of the National Library of China

Fig 3: 钟馗图轴, hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper, Huang Shen (黄慎, 1687–1772), 1734, Yangzhou Museum, Jiangsu Province, China

Fig 4-5: porcelain vase, Qianlong period (1736–95), Qing dynasty, courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum

Fig 6: hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper, Aisin Gioro Hongli (1711–99), 1755, courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei

Fig 7-8: glass snuff-bottle, 18th –19th century, courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei

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