AGE: – Qing Dynasty (1644-1912)
CONSTRUCTION: – Stoneware/ceramic
DESCRIPTION: – Antique Qing Dynasty Chinese Blue n White Ceramic Ginger Jar
HEIGHT: – 23cm
TOP RIM DIAM:– 17cm
BASE DIAM: – 17cm
LID DIAM: – 11.cm
BODY CIRCUMFERENCE: 74cm
WEIGHT: – 2.25 kg.
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Antique Qing Dynasty Chinese Blue n White Ceramic Ginger Jar painted and decorated with motifs of one of the five mythological creatures in Chinese myth and legend referred to as Pi Xiu. The Pi Xiu are auspicious creatures in Chinese mythology, they are also referred to as Bai Jie or Tian Lu.
These creatures share similarities to the Qilin and often difficult to distinguish between the two. Pi Xiu’s are also depicted in scenes where they appear to be flying in mid-air, assumedly because of their relationship with the Jade Emperor referred to in Taoist theology.
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According to Chinese myth the dragon king Longwang, lord of water and weather had nine sons, Pi Xiu was the ninth. In Chinese astrology and in the practice of Feng Shui it is believed that the reason these creatures bring good fortune stems from the legend whereupon Pi Xiu was invited to attend the birthday party of the Jade Emperor in heaven, whilst there he ate all the gold and silver in the palace. The Emperor in anger beat Pi Xiu on the buttocks sealing its anus. From this time Pi Xiu was unable to go to the toilet causing the gold and silver to accumulate in its stomach.
Whilst the Qilin is depicted with one horn similar to a unicorn, a lions mane which curls around the head and runs down the back with a bushy tail, cloven hoofs and sometimes painted with scales similar to that of a snake, the Pi Xiu is shown with feet similar to the cat species, without scales, without or with a lions mane similar to the Qilin, they are seen with or without claws or horns, although most are depicted with two horns lying flat against the head.
Although these creatures are depicted as looking quite ferocious they are considered to be gentle creatures, able to ward off evil and to bring prosperity and good fortune. The Chinese refer to these creatures as “fortune beasts”.
Pi Xui are often seen in pairs, a female and male. The male is called Pi, the head is usually facing to the left, whilst the female referred to as Xiu with her head facing to the right. They are seen with both short and elongated bodies in painting and statues.
My opinion is that there is a great deal of confusion around the Qilin and Pi Xiu and that they are represented in any way the artist wishes to see them. Foo dogs are also an expression of these mythological creatures.