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English, circa 1730-1760
H. 6”(15cm) W. 50”(127cm) D. 5”(13cm)
Stock No. 8121
The Fenghuang is a Chinese mythical bird that is referred to in the West as the Phoenix. A composite of many birds, it tends to be depicted nowadays as having, amongst other things, the head of a golden pheasant, tail of a peacock, legs of a crane and mouth of a parrot. It is said to appear in places that are blessed with utmost peace, prosperity or happiness. Phoenixes used in decoration of the home were meant to represent loyalty and honesty in the people who lived therein. They are a further symbol of blissful relations between husband and wife. In China, it has become the country’s most respected and revered legendary creature and the feminine counterpart to the symbol of the equally respected dragon. Through the Chinese influences in art and furniture, the Fenghuang has also become known as the Ho-ho bird, possibly deriving its name from the Japanese ‘Ho-o’ or Hou-ou’ word for the same bird, the legend of which was adopted from China.
Chinese dragons are creatures from the country’s myth and legend and are normally portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs and the various parts of more familiar animals, each symbolising different strengths and qualities. Traditionally it is said to wield power over water, rainfall, hurricanes and floods and is also revered as a symbol of power, strength and good fortune. For thousands of years it has been worshipped as the source of all that was beneficial to communal wellbeing and was seen as a bringer of joy and miracles. In ‘yin and yang’ terminology, a dragon is ‘yang’ and complements the ‘yin’ of the Chinese ‘fenghuang’ – the Ho-ho bird.