Vase Zen with hundred deer

unknown1736 - 1795 AD

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum
Toronto, Canada

As bronze and jade held pride of place in ancient China, so painting and calligraphy were most esteemed among the arts in later dynasties. The vase was made in appreciation of archaic form of bronze Zun, commonly seen in Shang Dynasty (c. 16 century BC – 1045 BC). The scenes that rolls uninterrupted around this vase resembles landscapes on scrolls painted in the traditional scholarly mode, with heavily textured, distant mountains rising from the mists and gnarled evergreens with intricately striated and fissured trunks. Contained within the landscape are symbols of some of the long-held aspirations of the Chinese. On the left, peaches of longevity are intertwined with the branches of a pine; on the right, the fungus of immortality grows sheltered below the rock with a sleeping doe. But the gambolling and prancing deer are the focus of the decoration, and they carry the strongest message. Through a pun on the word lu which can mean both ‘deer’ and ‘civil service salary’, the ‘Hundred Deer’ express the hope for an eminent career in government service – the ultimate in success in imperial China. The vase is commissioned or a gift for the imperial court, identical vases are found in National Palace Museum in Taipei.


  • Title: Vase Zen with hundred deer
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date: 1736 - 1795 AD
  • Location: Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, China
  • Physical Dimensions: h45.5 cm
  • Provenance: Gift of Mrs. H.D. Warren
  • Type: Vase
  • Medium: Porcelain with glaze and enamel paints
  • Time period: Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period
  • Accession Number: 911.9.17

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps