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The Three Abundances

2012 January 20

The Three Abundances
Fu shou san duo
福壽三多
Late 20th century
Yangliuqing, Tianjin 天津楊柳青
Hand-colored woodblock print
31 × 43 cm

The three fruits shown in this image, Buddha’s hand, peach and pomegranate are called the Three Abundances.[1] They are shown together to invoke three main wishes for an ideal life—good fortune, longevity and an abundance of descendants. The Buddha’s hand, fo shou 佛手sounds like fu shou 福壽, good fortune and longevity. The peach represents the celestial peach of the Queen Mother of the West, which promises long life to the person who eats it. The pomegranate symbolizes many descendants; its colloquial name is duozi 多子, which means “many seeds” and “many sons.” The three wishes are doubled by images of a bat for good fortune; a crane for longevity; and a fat baby boy for (male) descendants.  Thus this print makes use of direct depiction, symbolic motifs, and visual puns (rebuses) as means of invoking good outcomes.

Amy S. Huang

[1] Patricia Bjaaland Welch, Chinese Art : A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery (North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Pub., 2008), 49.

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