May you be bestowed the title of a marquis presently

马上封侯

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The Chinese character for ‘monkey’ is 猴 hou and it puns on the word for ‘marquis’ in Chinese 侯 hou. The expression ‘mashang 马上’ in Chinese is ambiguous in that it can mean, literally, ‘on a/the horse’, or it can mean, idiomatically, ‘right away’. Therefore, an image of a monkey on the back of a horse can be used, auspiciously, to convey the message ‘May you be bestowed the title of a marquis presently’.

Related Pun Pictures:

May you be created a peer and earn a handsome official income 爵禄封侯

May you have an imminent promotion 封侯

Acknowledgement:

Fig 1: jade carving, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Fig 2: jade carving belt hook, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of Shanxi Museum, China

Fig 3: agate snuff-bottle, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of Palace Museum, Beijing

Fig 4: crystal carving, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei

Fig 5: snuff-bottle, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of Museum of Fine Art, Boston

Fig 6: bamboo carving, 18th century, courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei

Fig 7: jade carving, 19 century, courtesy of Tokyo National Museum

Fig 8: jade carving, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of Hunan Museum, China

Fig 9: lead-glazed red pottery sculpture, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of Lee Kong Chian Art Museum, The National University of Singapore

Fig 10: jade carving belt hook, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of Guangdong Museum, China

Fig 11: agate snuff-bottle, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of Wuhan Museum, China

Fig 12: woodcut illustration, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of private collector Wu Baisuo

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