Chinese Blue and White Table Lamps "Phoenix Tail" or "Yen Yen" Vases With "Double Happiness" Characters with sweet pea designs
Late 19th/early 20th century
35-1/2 inches with harps
Painted in a striking cobalt blue against a white ground, these Yen Yen or Fengwei Zun style vases feature the Double Happiness symbols. Double Happiness sometimes translated as Double Happy, is a Chinese traditional ornament design, commonly used as a decoration symbol of marriage. Double Happiness is a large Chinese character which is comprised of two connected copies of the character for happiness.
The double happiness symbol dates back to the Tang Dynasty. According to legend, there was a student on his way to the capital to take an examination, after which the top scorers would be selected as ministers of the court. Unfortunately, the student fell ill along the way as he passed through a mountain village. But thankfully, an herbalist and his daughter took him to their house and expertly treated him.
The student recovered quickly because of their good care. However, when the time came for him to leave, he found it hard to say goodbye to the herbalist's daughter, and so did she—they had fallen in love with each other.
The young man ended up scoring highest in the examination. The emperor recognized his intellect and appointed the young man as a minister of the court. Before beginning the position, however, the student was allowed to pay a visit to his hometown.
He ran back to the herbalist's daughter and they soon wed, and during the ceremony, they doubled the Chinese character for "happy" on a red piece of paper and placed it on the wall. It is also common for people to gift the symbol to a couple to bestow upon them a blessing of good luck for their marriage.
In all of these contexts, the Double Happiness symbol represents joy and unity and is a commonly seen Feng Shui enhancer for love, romance and luck for the married couple.