May the male line in your family clan continue and flourish (pun picture)
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The phrase ‘gua die mian mian 瓜瓞绵绵’ is a variation of a line from a poem in the Classic of Poetry, Shijing 诗经, compiled in China during the period between the 11th to 7th centuries BCE, used as a metaphor for the continuation and flourishing of the family or clan along the male line. The Chinese character ‘gua 瓜’ refers to mature ‘melon’, ‘squash’, ‘gourd’, ‘pumpkin’, ‘cantaloupe’ and the like and the character ‘dié 瓞’ to their young ones. Derived from the classic text, pictorial depictions of melons with spreading vines became a popular subject to wish the family prosperity of the patron. Later, in order to liven the composition, butterflies were added because the character ‘dié 蝶’ for ‘butterfly’ or possibly ‘moth’ makes a pun on ‘dié 瓞’ for ‘small melons’ in the original phrase.
Related motif on the same topic:
Note: this pun picture is to be differentiated from a pictorial allusion May the male line in your family clan continue and flourish in Motifs & Symbols section.
Fig 1: porcelain jar with underglaze blue and overglaze enamelled decoration, 18th century, courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago
Fig 2: copper lidded jar decorated with polychrome enamels, Qianlong period (1736-95), Qing dynasty, courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei
Fig 3: hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper, 18th century
Fig 4: famille rose bowl, Jiaqing period (1796-1820), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri
Fig 5: amber carving, 18th century, courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei
Fig 6: porcelain tea cup, Daoguang period (1821-50), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Tokyo National Museum
Fig 7: album leaf, ink and colour on silk, Shen Zhenlin, Qing dynasty (1644-1911), courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei
Fig 8: New Year print, colour on paper, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Fig 9: hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper, Qi Baishi 齐白石 (1864-1957)