Porcelain vase of yan-yan shape painted with qilin
China, Kangxi period, 1662 - 1723
A large blue and white porcelain vase of yan yan shape. The bottom section is baluster shaped and rises from a stepped foot with a recessed base. The top section is formed by the slender neck and mouth and is widely flared. The exterior is painted in vibrant cobalt blue with four qilin on rocky outcrops amidst wild and crested waves. The top rim is painted with a band of diapers.
The qilin is a mythical hooved chimerical creature known in Chinese and other East Asian cultures. The animal has the head of a dragon, the body and antlers of a deer, the scales of a fish and the tail of a lion and is always shown with the cloven hooves of a horse. It is said to indicate the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler. To find this decoration on blue and white porcelain of the Kangxi period is extremely rare; landscape scenes and figures are the norm.