Discovery: The Ming Dynasty ‘Dragon’ jar that was used as an umbrella stand

Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art specialists Marco Almeida and Chi Fan Tsang examine an ‘incredibly important piece of Chinese porcelain’ that sold for more than $20 million in Hong Kong

‘The owner had always thought this was an 18th-century jar, a decorative object,’ explains Marco Almeida, a specialist in Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art at Christie’s in London.

This magnificent and very rare large blue and white ‘Dragon’ jar was being used as an umbrella stand when Almeida got in touch with the owner, who agreed to send it to London to be inspected. ‘Once it arrived, we were absolutely speechless,’ the specialist recalls. ‘The more we studied it, the better it got.’ The team soon realised they were handling an ‘incredibly important piece of Chinese porcelain from the Ming Dynasty.’

A magnificent very rare large blue and white ‘dragon’ jar, guan. Xuande four-character mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1426-1435). 19⅛ in (48.5 cm) high. Sold for HK$158,040,000  $20,447,642 on 30 May 2016
A magnificent very rare large blue and white ‘dragon’ jar, guan. Xuande four-character mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1426-1435). 19⅛ in (48.5 cm) high. Sold for: HK$158,040,000 / $20,447,642 on 30 May 2016

In this video, Chi Fan Tsang, a fellow specialist in Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, discusses the details that make this piece so special, including the significance of the five-clawed dragon, and the cross mark on the base of the vessel.

‘It is an incredibly expensive umbrella stand,’ says Almeida with a smile. Indeed it was — this dragon jar sold for HK$158,040,000 / $20,447,642 in 30 Years: The Sale on 30 May in Hong Kong.