A Pair of Late Ming or Early Qing Dynasty Bronze Vases, 17th Century. The Large Heavily Cast Vases are Based on Gnarled Flowering Prunus Trees. The Twisted Hollow `Trunks` are Supported by Four Root Shaped Legs. The `Trunks` Show Stumps Where the Branches of the Tree Would have been cut. There are Small Branches Against the Tree that Full of Flowers. There are Birds on the Branches and One Vase has a Deer Seated at the Base.
Plum Blossom :
Plum Meihua is one of the most important plants in Chinese art. Their flowers grow on knurled old angular branches, the flowers are fragile and pure, so they can be a symbol of vigour in old age as well as purity. The tree is the first to flower after the long hard winter, symbolically it can represent perseverance as well as renewal. This meaning is enhanced by a background of cracked-ice, the design can be seen as representing the end of winter and the beginning of spring with the ice of winter cracking to reveal a new year dawning. Branches of plum blossom convey the `Five Blessings` Meikai wufu, longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death. The number five, an auspicious number to the Chinese, is taken from the five petals of the plum flower.
`In the corner of the wall, some twigs of plum blossom. Braving the frost, they bloom quietly for themselves. Even in the distance, you can see that it is not snow. And from somewhere a sweet perfume is wafted` ( Wang An-Shi, 11th century ).
One vase has a loss, it is in the place where on the other vase has a deer. This flat area has been repatinated.