Every Pieces Tells A Story

Irv
Irv Graham

This Kangxi Rouleau vase depicts a legend that dates to 3rd-century China. The central figure, a young man called Pan’an, was the man all the women in the neighbourhood were crazy for. He was very elegant, very handsome, almost like a rock star. In this vase, he is richly dressed, with a fan and hair ornament. But his health was quite fragile, which is why he is being carried in a chariot.

On the balcony and in the windows, elegantly dressed women can be seen throwing fruit to him. At the end of his walk, according to the legend, his chariot would be full of fruit. You can find many representations of this story in the 18th century. That said, depictions on vases of Pan’an — who remains a famous character in China today — are relatively rare.

On the second vase below, a princess is looking for a husband. ‘A parade of well-dressed princes are lining up to give her presents. At the back of the queue is one suitor who you can tell is poor because his clothes are torn. And we see that she is going to choose him. It’s the first time this has been seen on a vase of the Kangxi period.

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