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Gourd Katydid Container with Lions

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: gourd
Dimensions: overall height: 12.1 cm

This katydid container has a long body, a swollen stomach, a pointed bottom, and a mouth inlaid with rosewood. Its neck is decorated with a circle of lotuses in relief, while the stomach has nine lions playing with traditional coins (a round coin with a square hole in the center). This design auspiciously implies "nine generations live together" since "lion" is a homophone with shi, "generation". Using such improvised implements as hot iron nails, incense, and candles, the craftsman burned patterns on the lotus petals, the lions' faces, and fur. The lines in dark color beautifully complement the object. On the top of the container the rosewood cover has seven holes that are edged with ivory.   
  A gourd katydid container usually had a gourd cover. In order to get the optimal chirping sound, katydid fans usually had several covers of different thickness or with different sized holes. Katydid containers often had an ingenious and practical device, a copper spiral inside the mouth that kept the insect in the container and protected its feelers.   
  This lovely gourd katydid container has distinctive taste, illustrating the traditional enthusiasm for keeping insects. It shows that even small curios can contain profound culture.

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