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Wishes for success window panel

19th century

  • Chinese cedar
  • 47 x 122cm

A wonderful interesting piece. The lower panel has a monkey shaking a wasp's nest. Behind him is a box wrapped in a ribbon. The meaning lies in the Chinese love of linguistic puns. The Chinese language has many words with the same sound but different written characters and therefore different meanings. Here the word for wasp is "feng" and the word for money is "hou". Change the words but keep the pronunciation and it means to be conferred the rank of marquis. Such scenes are called rebuses. A rebus is a representation of words by pictures. 

And the box behind the monkey? That's the official insignia wrapped up ready to open.

The monkey is standing on a branch of plum blossom, each petal representing one of the Five Blessings of happiness, good health, love of virtue, long life and a peaceful death. The adjacent bamboo is another longevity symbol. The bottom corner has bats. These are symbols of happiness - another rebus as the words for bat and happiness share the same pronunciation.