XIANFENG or TONGZHI 1851 – 1875

A Xianfeng (1851-1861) or Tongzhi (1862-1875) Blue and White Porcelain Trick Cup or `Gong Dao Bei`. Painted with Flowering Chrysanthemum and with a Moulded Figure to the Interior.


Condition: Perfect.

Size: Diameter : 7.7 cm (3 inches)

Provenance:Robert McPherson Antiques A Private English Collection of Chinese Blue and White Porcelain.


Stock number: 22374

Trick Cups / Gong Dao Bei :
Trick Cups or `Gong Dao Bei` (`don`t be greedy cup` or `fairness cup`) were wine cups where the wine would drain over the lap of heavy drinker. They illustrate the classical Chinese paradigm that modesty brings gain and arrogance results in loss. If you fill the cup to the top, taking more than your share, every drop will drain out onto your lap through a hole in the bottom, but if you are modest and only fill the cup half full you will be able to drink normally. The earliest cups of this type were made during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) but most are 18th or 19th century. For examples in Blanc de Chine as well as celadon with cobalt-blue and copper-red see our `Sold Items`, stock numbers 19828, 18807, 19002, 22109 and 19822. For more information on trick cups and a description of how they work see : Chinese Puzzles, Games for the Hands and Mind, Traditional Chinese Puzzles from the Yi Zhi Tang Collection (Wei Zhang and Peter Rasmussen, Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, 2008. ISBN 978-1-58886-101-6) pages 76 and 77.

Stock number: 22374.