Attendant with Fruit
Item No. 19035
18th - 19th Century, Buddhist, China
Lacquer over Wood and Polychrome
15" x 7" x 3.75"
( 38.1 x 17.78 x 9.525 cm)
(H x W x D)
This figure probably represents a seated female attendant with a blissful face, lips set in a smile of contentment, eyes cast down reverently, and hair gracefully flowing down her back under a decorative cap. She wears a high collared outer robe, pulled back at the waist to reveal a shorter under garment with a broad sash hanging to the hem of her garment. Her hands, which are obscured by a ritual cloth are held chest height and hold an offering of what appears to be three pieces of fruit, possibly peaches which represent longevity.
A more intersting interpretation of the offerings is presented by Welch (p. 250) which suggests that the three items might be a pictorial pun for a group three ancient coins presented as three dumpling which represent shaped gold or silver ingots known as yuanbao when they are stacked together on a plate or tray. As such they represent wealth. As a pun they may further represent the passing of three different levels of examinations in Imperial China's examination system that lead to a career in civil service.
Patriia Bjaaland Welch, Chinese Art: A guide to Motifs and Visual Images, Vermont, Tuttle Publishing, 2008.