The May cup is one of the most beautiful and well-detailed cups in the series. But it puzzles me that image depicted is of a pomegranate bush in full fruit rather than in full flower.
In researching what to say about the motif on this cup, I discovered a lovely website – www.chinancient.com – that contains some interesting information about pomegranates in Chinese culture. Here, the emphasis is on pomegranate flowers. Perhaps this is just a case of artistic license. I will be back in Hong Kong soon and will revisit the teacup set in the Flagstaff Museum of Teawares for comparison.
The following two images and the copy about Zhong Kui is taken verbatim from www.chinancient.com. I hope they don’t mind this little bit of free PR – I just love the images and the story. Their words are in italic.
In Chinese folklore, Zhong Kui is a deity who can drive away ghosts and evil beings. It is said that he commands 80,000 demons. Based on Chinese lunar calendar, the month of May also means that midsummer is just around the corner. The hot weather used to bring various diseases, which would spread rampantly. Therefore, ancient Chinese always hung the pictures of Zhong Kui on their gates to drive out the evils.
May is also the time when pomegranate blossoms. Its flame-like color is always compared with Zhong’s upright character. Hence, Zhong Kui became the representative for pomegranate blossoms.
The translation on the back of the May pomegranate cup reads like so:
at the fifth month, the pomegranate blossoms show their red
For detailed information on the history of Chinese 12 Flowers of the Months tea cups, please read my post from January 1st, 2010.