The eggplant goes by various names including brinjal and aubergine.
It’s mandarin name is qie zi (茄子).
It is widely recognized as long purple plant with rounded ends. But the Chinese aubergine is one that is elongated and unrounded.
When placed upright with the calyx on top, it resembles that of a man wearing a hat.
Because ancient Chinese officials wear a hat which is a symbols of their status and position in office, the eggplant is associated with office holders with the government.
When presented as a gift either as part of vegetable baskets or in paintings, it is meant to convey the wish of the gifters for the receiver to be bestowed a high position in an official post.
When the receiver does not have a career with the government or have any wish of attaining one, then the aubergine can be generally considered as a symbol of wishing success to the receiver.
It must be said that the symbolic meaning of the eggplant is seldom conveyed through gifts in modern times. As if it’s symbolic roots have gotten lost in time.
These days, this plant is most commonly used as a dish stir fried or roasted with garlic.