Antique Carving of Auspicious Fruit Offering, China (19304UAK)


H: 4.75″  W: 3.675″  D: 3.675″

This offering plate with a stack of five propitious fruits was probably affixed to one of the bed posts for a couple as a wish for male children and longevity. The plate sits on a base draped with a stylized ritual cloth and embellished with carved leaves and holds a pomegranate on top to symbolize fertility and the four peaches below are symbols of longevity.


Representations of wood food offerings with a lacquer coating are often part of the array of images spread on a temple or home altar and shrines and are substitutes or additions to what is ordinarily fresh fruit and food. Believed to be very auspicious, a food offering is a medium for communicating with gods and ancestors as part of ancestor-worship to bring blessings to the offerers who then hope to receive their blessings, guidance, virtues and values as well recognized fertility symbols and longevity symbols. Offerings are sometimes held by an attendant, presented independently and sometimes, as here integrated into furnishings or architectural decorations. The symbolic wish for fertility and producing many sons was reflected the expectation that newlyweds must produce sons soon after marriage  to “…perpetuate the family name and to continue to worship ancestors. To have no descendants is the greatest sin against filial piety.” (Bartholomew p.58)  The pomegranate (shilui) on top of this antique-Chinese-wood-carving is a fertility symbol due to its numerous seeds that is a homophone wish for 100 sons (liukai baizi).  The four fruits below are peach longevity symbols and the combination of the fruits are a wish for many sons and longevity and are perfect gifts for newlyweds. The finely carved fruits were painted with red and browns and covered with lacquer that darkens over time, all preserved in this charming presentation which is in excellent condition.


Terese Tse Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, San Francisco, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006.

Primal Trek, “The Hidden or Implied Meaning of Chinese Charm Symbols,” primal trek

Patricia Bjaaland Welch, Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, Rutland, Tuttle Publishing, 2008.

Additional information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 8 × 8 × 8 in
Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


19th Century

Materials and Technique

Wood, polychrome, lacquer

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 4.75" W: 3.675"

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 12.06cm W: 9.33cm D: 9.33cm




Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use

Reference Number


Shipping Box Size


0” to 5.9”