“Hundred Boys” Jar, 1522-1566

  • Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Jiajing period
  • Porcelain with underglaze blue decoration
  • Gift of Mrs. Herbert Nadai and Thomas Beal Jr. in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas P. Beal, 1982
  • E81696

The theme of one hundred boys at play was a popular decorative motif on porcelain, textiles and paintings from the 12th to the 20th century. Conveying a wish for numerous male progeny, the roots of the hundred boys motif is traceable to China’s earliest literary compilation, the Book of Odes, and alludes to the story of King Wen who had ninety-nine male offspring (with 24 wives) and one adopted son. One of his sons, King Wu, founded the Zhou dynasty (1027-221 B.C.E.).