May you be wealthy year after year
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Fish (鱼 yu) puns with the word yu 余 meaning ‘abundance’, therefore it symbolises wealth and prosperity. Lotus (莲 lian) puns with the word lian 连 meaning ‘to continue’ or ‘to connect’, and it is associated with the Chinese phrase lian nian 连年 meaning ‘year in, year out’. Hence, a fish and a lotus together signify ‘wealth for all the future’ by a double wordplay.
Relater Pun Pictures:
Fig 1: porcelain wine jar, Jiajing period (1522–66), Ming dynasty, courtesy of the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
Fig 2: porcelain dish, Wanli period (1573–1620), Ming dynasty, courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago
Fig 3: inkstone, Qianlong period (1736–95), Qing dynasty, courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei