Pair of playful children (Chin. wa-wa) standing in their gowns and trowsers loosely worn, one holding a small finger citron that stands for plenty, the other a lidded bottle, perhaps reminiscent of a Buddhist ailment jar. Traces of the original pigments remain between the folds of the clothing and on the faces.
Wa-wa, children at play, was a theme usually associated with prosperity and joyfulness and often appeared in traditional paintings, lacquers and ceramics from the Ming period onwards. The two figures here illustrated are recognisable by their youn hairstyle, one having the hair tied up into two lateral knobs, the other with two bows on the sides, above the ears.
Children depictions were often used for nianhua (New Year) paintings and auspicious prints and ceramics, possibly because of the word pun implicit in their Chinese name. As an ancient saying goes:"All senior officials are called 'zi' which is homonymous with 'zi', meaning 'son' or 'child'. So to have many 'zi' (sons) signifies many ministers or high officials in the family. All these epitomize the yearning of the people of ancient times for a happy life. Note: 'zi' was an ancient title of respect for a learned or virtuous man.