May you have an imminent promotion


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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.

Related Pun Pictures:

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

May you be bestowed the title of a marquis presently 马上封侯

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Fig 1-2: hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk, Shen Quan (1682-1760), courtesy of Palace Museum, Beijing

Fig 3: underglaze red porcelain brush holder, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)

Fig 4: New-year colour print, Wuqiang county, Hebei province

Fig 5: New-year colour print, Weixian county, Shandong province

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