May unexpected good luck descend on you!


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Pun design:

Spider + descending from the sky

Punning mechanism:

‘Zhi zhu (蜘蛛, spider)’ has a nickname ‘xi zi (蟢子)’ or ‘xi zhu (喜蛛)’ meaning the ‘lucky one’ or ‘lucky spider’.

Its first character ‘xi 喜(蟢)’ for ‘happiness (good luck)’ is then combined with the phrase ‘cong tian jiang (从天降)’, meaning ‘descending from the sky’.

The whole phrase (喜从天降) describing the spider’s action in the picture is to convey the meaning ‘pleasant surprise descending on you’.


画面要素:蜘蛛 + 从天降

谐音机制 : 取蜘蛛的别名‘喜蛛’谐音‘喜’; 某物自天而降,取‘从天降’


Related Pun Pictures:

May good fortune descend from heaven 福从天降

Related blog:

Why do Chinese artists often paint spider in their works?


Fig 1: close-up, fan cover, Southern Song (1127–1279), courtesy of the National Palace Museum Monthly No. 107 p. 16 p.4

Fig 2-3: porcelain vase with underglaze blue decoration, Chongzhen period (1628–44), Ming dynasty, courtesy of the Museum of East Asian Art (Cologne)

Fig 4: cylindrical vase with underglaze blue decoration, Chongzhen period (1628–44), Ming dynasty, courtesy of Tianjin Museum, China

Fig 5: hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk, Lv Xue (吕学, active in Kangxi period), 17th century, courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum

Fig 6: porcelain ink container with underglaze blue decoration, Kangxi period (1662–1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Shanghai Museum, China

Fig 7: fan cover, Xi Cong Tian Jiang, Lu Xiangyue (ca. 1800–1911), 1902, courtesy of the National Museum of History, Taipei

Fig 8: illustration, Kisshō zuan kaidai : Shina fuzoku no ichi kenkyū by Nobuchika, Nozaki, Pl. 36, Tenjin: Chn̄goku Dosan Kōshi, 1928

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