A delicate tea set produced in China's capital of porcelain, Jingdezhen, and embedded with rich culture traditions, is expected to arrive at Buckingham Palace for the royal wedding this week, media reports said.
The gift originated from Zhu Xiaoju, a Chinese woman who once studied in the UK and came up with the idea during a chat with her friends a month ago. After approaching the royal family, she received a letter from the royal family on March 21 accepting her contribution to the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29.
The next day, Zhu went back to Jingdezhen in East China's Jiangxi province and sought assistance from local workshops to design and make the tea set. She spent 10 days meeting with renowned masters of porcelain about a well-crafted set that "wishes the best for the lovers and can show Chinese traditional culture," in the words of Zhu.
Finally, Zhu picked a hexagonal design teapot in a blue and white rice pattern porcelain. Besides the names William and Kate engraved on its surface, both the teapot and cups are decorated with intricate patterns of plum blossoms, orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo. They are not merely four plants but regarded as the four gentlemen of great virtues in Chinese culture and frequently featured in ancient paintings to express loftiness, righteousness, modesty and purity.
Zhu Xiaoju also put a lot of deliberation into naming the tea set and finally decided to call it "Dian Xi." The choice of these two Chinese characters was inspired by Cao Xueqin's epic novel The Dream of Red Mansions, which describes a drinking vessel used by one of the principal characters, Lin Daiyu, as "Dian Xi." The characters can also be traced to a popular poem by the late Tang Dynasty poet Li Shangyin (813-858), indicating mutual affinity and agreement.
"I wish Prince William and Kate mutually attached with each other and live a happy life."
"With this tea set, I want to congratulate the royal wedding and also hope it can be the medium for a cultural exchange between the West and East."