Object nr. 939 China, Daoguang period (1821-1850) Height: 17.5 cm | Length: 27.5 cm

Private Collection, France

Condition Report available

€ 22,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Infomation

A figure of a recumbant cat in enamel on biscuit porcelain. It is glazed all over in a striking yellow, except for its toes and inner ears, which are left white. The eyes are a striking green colour with black slitted pupils. This is a fine example of 19th century porcelain, the model and pose of this cat following 18th century cats made as night lights.

Cats in China

According to legend, the domestic cat was introduced into China from India. Buddhist monks imported them, for keeping rodents at bay from the sacred scriptures in the temples. They were highly appreciated for their mouse-catching skills, particularly in rural areas. Because of their cleanliness, they also became popular pets in women’s quarters. Because of their excellent eyesight it was also thought cats could see spirits in the dark

Linguistically, the character for cat (mao) is a homonym for an octogenarian (someone in their 80’s), making the cat a symbol of longevity and given as gifts on someones 80th birthday. A butterfly (die), represents a seventy year old. So a cat with the butterfly, could express the wish for someone to reach the age of 80. The combination of those two characters sound like maodie – which in China refers to an very elderly person, between 70-90 years old.

Floris van der Ven