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Gold-glazed vase adorned with the auspicious symbol of three goats, Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty

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Gold-glazed vase adorned with the auspicious symbol of three goats
Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty
H. 16.9 cm;Diam. 7.5 cm;Diam. of base. 8.8 cm


This vase has a plate mouth, straight neck, slanting shoulders, wide belly, and short ring foot. The exterior is coated with gold glaze, and the interior is coated with lake-green glaze. On the underside of the vessel, a gold six-character inscription in seal script reads, "Da Qing Qian Long Nian Zhi (Made in the Qianlong Reign of the Great Qing Empire)." The neck is adorned with a ring of string patterns, and the shoulders are decorated with three crouching auspicious sheep, symbolizing an auspicious beginning. Vessels intended for imperial use in the Qing court favored decorative patterns with auspicious meanings, and the records of the Imperial Workshop show that the Qianlong Emperor requested the imperial kilns to paint auspicious flower designs in accordance with the seasons on porcelain wares. The "three sheep ushering in an auspicious beginning" motif was reserved for the Lunar New Year, and this work not only reflects the fashions of the time, but the three-dimensional sheep decorations are evidence of the production of xiangshen (naturalistic) porcelain in the Qianlong imperial kilns. Xiangshen porcelain refers to works with realistic three-dimensional decorations of human figures, flowers, fruits, beasts, and birds, or works that are realistic depictions of such living beings. This technique produced works that were completely different from traditional porcelain wares, moving beyond two-dimensional painted decorations through the use of three-dimensional adornments to enhance the artistic sense of porcelain works. Such works had already appeared during the Kangxi reign, but the Qianlong imperial kilns took this technique to new heights, firing vivid, animated works such as "three-servant vases," "five-servant vases," and "porcelain shepherd boys," to showcase the naturalistic presentation of porcelain works.