jade branch of elegant lychee, Agate finger
jade branch of
What catches the attention
of most people who see this work of
so-called "elegant lychee"
in the Museum collection, in addition
to its sparkling beauty, is the name
given to it. This artwork is actually
in imitation of a kind of bitter gourd
that grows in northern China. "Elegant
lychee" is another name for "bitter
gourd", also known as "leprous
gourd", a form of the plant for
decorative purposes. However, the terms
"bitter" and "leprous"
are not exactly positive in connotation,
so the original brocaded case for this
object in the Tung-nuan Pavilion of
the Ch'ien-ch'ing Palace was provided
with the title "White jade branch
of elegant lychee", thus revealing
the attention to and refinement in naming
items by the court.
The accompanying agate
finger citron flower holder from the
Museum collection seen here is also
a decorative object overflowing with
auspicious significance often seen in
the Ch'ing dynasty. It is carved into
the shape of a finger citron (a kind
of bergamot) with branch and leaves in
a very animated manner.