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Clock with a Scene of Birthday Celebrations

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Period: Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: gilded copper, enamel, and glass
Origin: made in Guangzhou
Dimensions: height: 100 cm, width: 40 cm, length: 32 cm

In the form of a European style building, the gilded frame of this clock is decorated with tendril patterns and inlaid with red and green glass. Four gilded goat figurines support the entire stand. At the very top, resting on the clock is a vase containing pineapple flowers. Below is a three-hand dial supported by slender cylinders of a decorative waterfall. In the middle story is a figure holding a hammer ready to strike bells of varying sizes and thickness to produce a range of sounds. The lower part of the stand is designed as a stage scene with three figures. The center figure holds a scroll with characters reading "[may you enjoy] boundless longevity" [wanshou wujiang], while the other two figures each present peaches. Three goats, whose mouths open and tails twitch, stand before the central figure. Since the Chinese word for goat (yang) sounds like the word for fortune (xiang), the goats symbolize a bountiful spring harvest that promises a flourishing year ahead (sanyang kaitai). The clock also features twelve revolving ivory figures that circle the stand. The winding keyholes are in the back of the stand and when the clock is activated, all the parts perform accompanied by music, creating a scene of a lively birthday celebration.

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