May you have inexhaustible good fortune and longevity

万福万寿

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When swastika is combined with the Chinese character shou 寿 (meaning long life) and the image of the bat, whose pronunciation puns on the Chinese word fu 福 for ‘luck’ or ‘good fortune’, the composition is used to express good wishes of the highest order on the receiver’s life span and good fortune, such as ‘May you have inexhaustible good fortune and longevity (万福万寿)’ or, more commonly, May you enjoy long life and always be blessed by good fortune (福寿万年)’. Art works adorned with this design are apt birthday presents for revered personages up to kings and emperors.

Acknowledgement:

Fig 1: double-gourd porcelain vase, Qianlong period (1736-95), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Palace Museum, Beijing

Fig 2: porcelain vase with overglaze enamelled decoration, Qianlong period (1736-95), Qing dynasty, courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei

Fig 3: porcelain vase, Qianlong period (1736-95), Qing dynasty, courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei

Fig 4: porcelain dish, Tongzhi period (1861-75), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Palace Museum, Beijing

Fig 5: lidded porcelain bowl, Tongzhi period (1861-75), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Palace Museum, Beijing

Fig 6: porcelain dish with overglaze enamelled decoration, Guangxu period (1875-1908), courtesy of Palace Museum, Beijing

Fig 7: porcelain flower pot with overglaze enamelled decoration, Guangxu period (1875-1908), courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei

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