May you pass examinations all the way
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One egret (鹭鸶, similar shape as heron), which can be referred to in Chinese as ‘一鹭 yi lu’, makes a pun (i.e. a homophone) on the phrase ‘一路 yi lu’, for ‘all the way’. The lotus pod ‘莲窠 lian ke’, is a pun on ‘连科 lian ke’, which means ‘to pass examinations successively’. Thus, the combination of an egret and lotus pods can be created to represent the auspicious saying ‘May you come out first in the three-level civil-service examinations’!
The same picture may be referred to as ‘yi lu qing lian 一路清廉’.
Related Pun Picture:
Fig 1: miniature porcelain water bucket, Xuande period (1426–35), Ming dynasty, courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago
Fig 2: lacquer box, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), courtesy of the Tokyo Chuo Auction House, 2021, No.720
Fig 3: miniature porcelain water bucket, 17th century, courtesy of Tokyo National Museum
Fig 4: porcelain dish, Chongzhen period (1628–44), Ming dynasty, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fig 5: glass snuff bottle, c. 1740–1800, courtesy of the Christie Auction House, 2020
Fig 6: lidded porcelain container with overglaze enamelled decoration, Guangxu period (1875–1908), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Palace Museum, Beijing
Fig 7: table screen, stone carving, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), from Weibo ID @GiaVincent posted on Aug 6, 2020