Pair of Bowls with Bat Design
Qing dynasty (1644-1912), Kangxi period (1661-1722)
porcelain with rouge de fer enamel
2.375 x 4.875 inches diam. Each
In Western culture bats are sometimes seen as sinister creatures associated with the occult. In Chinese culture bats are associated with good luck and happiness. This association is created through a phonetic parallel; the name for bats is fu and the word for good fortune is pronounced "fu." The iron red (rouge de fer) coloration of the bats seen in these bowls endows them with particular power. Not only does the color red deflect bad spirits, but its name, hong, sounds the same as the word enormous in Chinese. Hence, the red bats indicate wishes for enormous good fortune.
Eberhard, pp. 32, 248-249
--K. Johnson Bowles, 2006, Reflecting Centuries of Beauty: The Rowe Collection of Chinese Art