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Former Qing Palace Collection
Carved from agate, the basin (pen, lit. "flower pot") of this miniature scene is fashioned to resemble the Buddha's hand citron. This type of fruit is conventionally believed to resemble the hand of the Buddha (foshou). It is widely used in traditional Chinese arts to symbolize auspiciousness since it is a homophone with “blessing” (fu) and “longevity” (shou). One citrus is larger than the other; the two are clasped together. The wall of this basin features a delicately carved butterfly. The stand is made of carved wood. The plum trees are composed of green silk thread bound around bronze wire. The wire was bent to form the tree trunks and branches. The gilt stem, calyx, and stamen of the plum blossoms are welded to the bronze branches. The pistil is formed of red silk thread bound around bronze wire. White jade and other precious materials form the five petals of each blossom. The petals are fastened as inlay in and around the gilt components of the blossoms. The blossom buds are crafted from white jade or rose quartz (furong shi). The tree leaves are carved from green jade. Interspersed between the blossoms are several ivory chrysanthemums; the leaves of these chrysanthemums are composed of dyed ivory, while a golden glaze marks the leaves' venation. The foliage in this miniature scene is luxuriant and well proportioned. The delicate scene stands strong against the passage of time yet maintains elegance within the blended tones.