"Nyonya – Phoenix Perched in Peonies".
A rare, late 19th century, Chinese export, Famille Rose, Nyonya, Peranakan antique lamp of cylindrical shape, or joss stick holder. This cylinder shape is known in Chinese as ‘Yi Tong’ which translates as ‘being straight’. It is also an early Chinese pun on ‘unification,’ implying a kingdom unified. Unlike other curvaceous, more sensual shapes, the Yi Tong is a clean, cylindrical silhouette.
The Nyonya, also spelled "Nonya", Chinese communities commissioned their uniquely decorated porcelains from China.The kilns decorated these Nyonya export porcelains to order, strictly adhering to the range of specific enamel colour requirements of the Straits communities. Green was one of the most favoured of the Nyonya colours and this lamp base is enamelled with a green ground known as "Penang Green" and is one of the six shades of green used.
All Chinese art is highly symbolic and what could simply be seen as decorative, is rarely so. The Peony and the Phoenix are two such artistic symbols and the most favoured by the Straits Chinese communities of Singapore, Malacca and Penang.
The Peony flower is one of the four flower emblems, signifying summer, love and affection. It is also a synonym for nobility, gracefulness and indicates a hope for greater advancement. The Phoenix, Feng Huang, is an ancient emblem signifying goodness and benevolence. It was used to symbolise the Empress of China and a bride on her wedding day. The phoenix is also a symbol of high achievement, as this bird can fly the closest to heaven.
The Phoenix is the central decorative subject, shown perched on moss covered rockery and standing beneath a wutong, or parasol tree. The decoration includes Magnolia buds and flowers, signifying female beauty. The Peony and Magnolia are shown as arising from the mossy rockery.
The top and bottom borders of the lamp are enamelled with a wide, yellow band and decorated with both Taoist and Buddhist sacred symbols. The reverse side of the lamp painted with two butterflies in flight, a symbol for joy and marital happiness.
Nyonya porcelain is entirely different, with no reference to any other class of Chinese porcelain produced. It is distinguished by a relatively small range of robust colours and a preference for a predominant decoration, usually incorporating the phoenix and the peony.
This lamp is a very fine example of the unique, 19th century, Chinese porcelain specifically produced for the Malay Straits and Singaporean Chinese communities. To clearly see this delight in bold colour, please click on the photo for the colour selection chosen in the decoration of the typical Nyonya house.
The lamp seated in a fine quality, well carved, 19th century, Chinese stand and fitted with a custom made, matte gold plated lamp cap. The lamp shown with an ivory silk shade suggestion.
Straits Chinese Porcelain, A Collectors Guide.
Author, Ho Wing Meng, Published, Marshall Cavendish International Pte Ltd. Singapore 2004.
Peranakan Chinese Porcelain
Author, Kee Ming- Yuet. Published, Tuttle Publishing Singapore 2009.
Guangzhou Emperor - Circa 1900
Overall height (including shade) 27"/68.5cm approx
Lamps shipped to the US and UK are wired to US and UK specificationsThe lamp shade shown is for photography purposes only.