Winter always leaves everyone a bit down–especially considering that it has hardly begun and we have already been shellacked by numerous terrible snow storms.  To raise everyone’s spirits, here is the photo of a lovely late Ming double gourd vase.  For some reason the top of the vase features wallowing water buffalos, but there on the bottom globe of this tiny 16th century porcelain masterpiece is a leaping quilin—the legendary beast of heaven whose appearance presages good fortune.  He is disporting himself among Chinese white pines and fire scrolls.

A late Ming Double Gourd Vase with Pines, Magical Creatures, Fire scrolls, and Buffaloes

I’m sorry I don’t have a better picture.  The English merchants who were selling this piece didn’t quite photograph the Quilin in focus.  However even in this blurry form, the graceful lines of the magic animal are evident and the artistry of the unknown creator is very apparent.  Perhaps it was made on a bleak winter day half a millenium ago by some Jingdezhen potter who was dreaming of good fortune and summer in the mountains.