Sending you a safe-and-sound message
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The Chinese character ‘an 鹌’ in ‘anchun 鹌鹑’ for ‘quail’ makes a pun on ‘an 安’ for ‘peace’. The character ‘zhu 竹’ for ‘bamboo’ is a pun on ‘zhu 祝’ for the verb ‘to wish’ and thus is used here to cue the character cluster ‘zhubao 竹报 (祝报)’ for the verb phrase ‘to wish to announce or send’. Thus, a composition containing quails and bamboo can be used to convey a good wish that you be safe and sound.
This pun rebus design has a variation in which the image of firecrackers is used. The reverse of the Chinese characters ‘baozhu 爆竹’ for ‘firecracker’ is ‘zhubao’, which puns on the character cluster ‘zhubao 祝报’ for the verb phrase ‘wish to announce or send’. Bamboo can be kept in a vase as a table top decoration. The Chinese character ‘ping 瓶’ for ‘vase’ is homophonic to the word ‘ping 平’, which can cue the phrase ‘pingan 平安’ for ‘safe and sound’.
Furthermore, a scene of children lighting firecracker can be used to cue the good wish that the receiver be safe and sound for the reason explained above.
Fig 1: porcelain vase with overglaze enamelled decoration, Qianlong period (1736 – 95), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Shanghai Museum
Fig 2: colour print from Wuqiang, Hebei province
Fig 3: porcelain jar with underglaze blue decoration, Kangxi period (1662 – 1722), Qing dynasty
Fig 4: Drawing explaining a version of this pun rebus design illustration, Kisshō zuan kaidai : Shina fuzoku no ichi kenkyū by Nobuchika, Nozaki, Pl. 38, Tenjin: Chn̄goku Dosan Kōshi 1928