May you have an imminent promotion
The ancient Chinese would employ a picture of a monkey reaching for a bee hive to wish their boss an imminent promotion. The word for bees in Chinese is ‘feng 蜂’ and the word for monkeys is ‘hou 猴’. When ‘feng’ and ‘hou’ are put together, they can form the phrase 封侯 which means ‘be bestowed a rank of nobility’ in Chinese. Thus, such a rustic image can adorn bric-à-brac as gifts to please the receiver and lubricate human relationship.
Fig 1: underglaze red porcelain brush holder, Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911)
Fig 2: Chinese painting, 富寿年丰
Fig 3: New-year colour print, Weixian country, Shandong province