Material and Medium: Ivory, wood
Dimensions: Overall: 110 x 168mm (4 5/16 x 6 5/8in.)
Overall: 91 x 175 x 87mm (3 9/16 x 6 7/8 x 3 7/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 2007.295
This ornamental plaque shows a scene celebrating the virtue of sons. Overhead a flourishing bean plant symbolises many sons. Its vine and tendrils make a word puzzle that represents the phrase ‘ten thousand generations’. The Chinese wished that their families would flourish through the male line forever. They wanted their boys to grow up obedient to Confucian virtues.
Below the vine are a group of boys dividing pears. The eldest brother will get the largest one. This incident is described in the Three Character Classic, a book used for hundreds of years to teach children the basic principles of Confucianism. This scene represents the ideal that children should respect their elders.