DishesDIA100xH40mm, China

A pair of peony bowls.

Peony is a flower that has been much appreciated, beyond displaying in gardens.
Its beauty reciprocated in painting, opera and poetry.

Emperor Xuan Gong was with his beloved Lady Yang admiring the peony blossom in the palace garden.  Li Bai was summoned to court to write a poem about the peony.





The poem “Lady Yang” by Li Bai, translation by S. Obata

The glory of trailing clouds is in her garments,
and the radiance of a flower on her face.
O heavenly apparition, found only far above
On the top of the Mountain of Many Jewels,
Or in the fairy Palace of Crystal when the moon is up!
Yet I see her here in the earth’s garden
The spring wind softly sweeps the balustrade,
And the dew-drops glisten thickly …

She is the flowering branch of the peony,
richly-laden with honey dew.
hers is the charm of the vanished fairy,
That broke the heart of the dreamer king
In the old legend of the Cloud and Rain.
Pray, who in the palace of Han
Could be likened unto her,
Save the lady, Flaying Swallow, newly dressed
In all her loveliness?

She stands, leaning against the balustrade
Of Chen Hsiang Ting, the Pavilion of Aloes.
Vanquished are the endless longings of Love
Borne into the heart on the wind of spring
The radiant flower and the flowery queen rejoice together,
For the emperor deigns to watch them ever with a smile.