200 George Street

Four Seasons, Four Flowers

Case 1

The decorations on these Chinese-produced ceramics were used on a range of bowls, cups, spoons and dishes. The patterns contain characters and symbols that are centuries old. Over time, the patterns sometimes changed, such as the characters on the base of the bowls. Typically, such markings stated the reigning emperor and year made. Yet the information is not clear on these bowls.

Flowers had a range of meanings. The four seasons, four flowers pattern includes one flower for each season—peony for spring, lotus for summer, chrysanthemum for winter and plum blossom for winter. They are placed around a central image of a peach, which symbolises longevity. As well as representing the seasons, these flowers have other symbolic and auspicious meanings. The peony is the ‘king of the flowers’ and stands for wealth and honour. The lotus is a symbol of purity, harmony and wealth. The chrysanthemum and plum blossom represent perseverance and purity, and are also symbols of longevity.

The colour of Winter Green (which looks like jade) is associated with Jun Zi—a well-educated Chinese man with the highest moral virtues. The colour was also associated with heaven and the colour of the clear sky after rain.

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