- “Playing dolls” (耍娃娃)
- Children playing with balls (婴戏球)
- Children playing with ducks (婴戏鸭) or with deer (婴戏鹿)
- Children riding a bamboo horse (骑竹马)
- Boating, fishing (钓鱼), firecrackers (放爆竹)
The motif goes back to the tang dynasty and this motif has changed over time through subtle changes in the imagery, reflecting the social conditions and stability of each of the various periods. During periods of declining prosperity bodies, clothing and particularly heads changed to reflect the times. Children depicted in prosperous times are more plump and carefree; scenes are livelier. In times of social unrest and/or less prosperity the imagery become more abstract and even distorted to some degree. With research and closer scrutiny it can be a useful tool in dating.
“100 children” known in Chinese as “100 suns & 1000 grandsons” (百子千孫) is another similar but a different motif and is in particular is often associated with weddings. This one peaked in popularity during the Ming and Qing Dynasties and the number of children in each scene increased significantly. Supposedly this motif refers to Zhou Wen Wang, the founder of the Zhou Dynasty who had 99 sons and adopted 1 more for an even 100!
Children riding a bamboo horse
A Ming dynasty compound cabinet sometimes called a “wedding cabinet” with the children at play motif 100 suns & 1000 grandsons.
Children at play (porcelain)
Children at play fishing as depicted on this cinnabar lacquer snuff bottle.