In traditional Chinese art, the dragon holds a prominent place. Being one of the four supernatural creatures, (Ssu Ling), it is often portrayed amidst clouds in pursuit of the Sacred Pearl, the symbol of enlightenment.

It is also often seen as the Flaming Pearl, a circular object aflame, which may have originally been a symbol for the sun.

The dragon is predominantly seen as the symbolic power and authority of the Emperor. In China, until the early 20th century, the Emperor, or Son of Heaven, was held as the bridge between heaven and earth. His ceremonial role was to seek balance between these two states.

The Emperor was seen and experienced as a celestial presence on earth, exercising all the power and authority of heaven.

From the traditional Chinese perspective, the dragon is a benign symbol who brings the spring rain and ensures a good harvest. The dragon is seen as positive energy and the font of good fortune.

By contrast, the dragon in western art is usually portrayed as a fierce fire breathing monster who symbolises evil and typically in combat with a symbol of good overcoming evil, eg St George and the Dragon.

Chinese art is highly symbolic and can be read with its symbol rich content. When the dragon is depicted as a five clawed dragon it symbolises the Emperor, four claws, a prince and three claws, an Imperial official.

A/095 is a refined pair of mid 19th century, Chinese, Famille Verte, bottle vases as table lamps.

The rims and collars of the lamps are with a border of cloud and thunder fret or lei-wên, the fret enamelled in lustre green.

The vase shapes with a carefully drawn ground of whites graffito symbolising waves. The principle decoration is of four five clawed dragons above a border of green waves. The dragons are amid clouds and flames. There is a wide ranging enamel palette including yellow, lustre green, pale blue and red.

The lamps mounted on square shaped, maple wood, low Chinese tables, lacquered in antiqued Chinese iron red.

  • Circa 1860
  • Overall height (including shades) 18"/46cm

These lamps are available from The Antique & Vintage Table Lamp.