A Chinese silver egoïste teapot with chased and engraved geometric and floral decoration.
Almost certainly made for the domestic market. 

Dimensions 9,5 cm (3 3/4 inches) High ; 14,5 cm (5 3/4 inches) Long
Weight 328 g.
Silversmith Fang Jiu Xia 方九霞
Date circa 1930
Condition Excellent condition

notes : (Many thanks to Adrien Von Ferscht THE expert on Chinese silver for the text)

The silver mark is of one of the oldest silver shops in Shanghai, Fang Jiu Xia 方九霞 [see attached]. It’s quite a rare mark to come across these days. It’s also one of the group of silver shops in Shanghai known as the “Nine Factories”
This tea kettle is all about “luck” and “longevity” and “happiness”
The large double ideograph symbol 囍 on the central part of the body stands for “Double Happiness” - it is pronounced xi; it is a traditional symbol used at Chinese weddimgs, which is probably what this item was intended for - a wedding gift, possibly. The symbol is a double 喜 character; also pronounced xi, meaning “happy; delighted; joy”. It can also be pronounced as a polysyllabic Chinese character, being read as 双喜 shuangxi
The border top and bottom of the body is known as a “ruyi” border; this is quite a convoluted Chinese construct. A ruyi 如意 was a sceptre [珽 ting] that represented power and authority; ruyi sceptres were always tribute gifts to the emperor on his birthday, for example, but the emperor could also confer a ruyi sceptre on someone as an honour, making them status symbols of political power. The two borders on the tea pot are actually the cloud-shaped head of a ruyi sceptre - it is similar to that of the lingzhi or "fungus of immortality" and the lotus. The word"ruyi" is usually translated as "as you wish" or "in accordance with your desires”; it now symbolises good wishes and prosperity.
The ruyi is also one of the “Eight Treasures”, babao 八宝 - symbols of good fortune. They have appeared as decorative motifs either singly or collectively on porcelain and silver wares since the Yuan dynasty. They are also often seen as porcelain base marks and are almost always depicted with ribbons attached, themselves
According to records at the Palace Museum, Beijing [Forbidden City], the ruyi sceptre originated from back scratchers, 
The meander border or ‘cloud and thunder” [云雷纹 yun lei wen] derived from pictographs from the Shang Dynasty [1600 to 1046 BCE] and is generally held to have been the forerunner of the so-called Greek Key pattern.  The motif originally represented life giving rain and abundance, but has since morphed into simply representing longevity.
The symbolism of the bat on the spout: The bat in this instance is upside down - the character (dao 倒) for "upside-down" and the character (dao 到) meaning "to have arrived" are both pronounced dao.  Therefore, if a person were to say "the bat is flying upside down" a listener could just as easily hear this as "happiness has arrived” - therefore a highly auspicious invocation. 
The lid of the pot is secured each side by a traditional Chinese lock, 家鎖 jia suo or 鎖片 suo pan. Chinese locks originated in the Ming dynasty, but didn’t became popular symbols until the 19th century and that popularity is directly linked to silver; historically, silver was always a re metal in China, but due to the huge influx of silver from South America and Japan, their popularity rose. Traditionally, lock charms could be bought from silversmiths in various shapes and sizes. Parents would often let a Buddhist or a Taoist priest use their own hands to tie these lock charms to their young sons. Wealthy families often gave their sons lock charms made from jade, nephrite, silver, or gold. While poorer families often bought silver locks for their sons.
They are also considered a symbol of longevity.
There is also a floral/foliate motif on the body of the tea pot, but none of the images allow me to see it in its entirety; no doubt this also has an allegorical meaning. Send me an image and I’ll be able to uncover the meaning for you - I suspect it could be two magpies on a prunus tree - a combination known as 鵲和梅花; que he meihua. Magpies 喜鹊 xique represent marriage and happiness. According to legend,a pair of separated lovers were reunited once a year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month on a celestial bridge made of a flock of magpies. Therefore a pair [shuang 双] of magpies came to represent conjugal bliss and fidelity - this can be represented by either two magpies or  the stylised shuangxi 双喜 symbol.

I believe the image you sent me to be the citron fruit that is popular in China that’s best known as “Buddha’s Hand” [Fructus Citri Sarcodactylis] or 佛手 foshou
It symbolises happiness, longevity and good fortune - The name foshou sounds very similar to the words fu (福 happiness) and shou (寿 longevity) and therefore the citron is a symbol for "happiness and longevity”.
The citron is also one of the “Three Abundances” sanduo 三多 [peach (symbolising longevity), the pomegranate (symbolising descendants or progeny) and the citron (symbolising happiness and longevity).


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A Chinese silver egoïste teapot for the domestic market

~ $2,679

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