• Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works  auction at Christies

    Sale 2196

    Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art Including Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections

    15 September 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 341

    A FINE AND RARE NUMBERED JUNYAO TRIPOD 'NARCISSUS' BOWL

    YUAN/EARLY MING DYNASTY, 14TH-15TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A FINE AND RARE NUMBERED JUNYAO TRIPOD 'NARCISSUS' BOWL
    YUAN/EARLY MING DYNASTY, 14TH-15TH CENTURY
    The stoutly potted, shallow rounded bowl applied with a band of sixteen 'nail-head' bosses above the three ruyi supports, with a further band of twenty bosses between a bow-string border and the raised edge of the rim, the exterior covered in a finely mottled reddish-purple glaze shading to reddish brown on the raised areas, the interior in tones of milky blue and mushroom, the base inscribed with the character wu, 'five', and partially covered with a thin olive-toned glaze over a thin brown wash, with a ring of small spur marks that reveal the grey body
    8 3/16 in. (20.9 cm.) diam., box


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    The fascination with Jun ware lies in its remarkable glaze, with its lustrous and opalescent qualities, as evident in the present lot. This opalescence is due to the effect of light on certain features within the glaze: the mass of tiny gas bubbles trapped in the glaze, the formation of minute crystals which reflect light back through the glaze, and an emulsion formed by two liquids within the glaze. Early examples of Junyao have an even pale bluish glaze. Later, the potters began to add splashes of copper oxide to the unfired glaze, which resulted in colorful pieces comprised of bright purple areas contrasting with the soft blue tone of the glaze. On 'narcissus' bulb bowls, the most desirable arrangement was to have the interior glazed blue and the exterior purple.

    Research has suggested that the numbers incised on the bases of Junyao vessels, clearly relate to the size of the vessel and may also indicate which rooms they were kept in at the Imperial Palace. As a rule, the larger the numeral on these 'numbered' Jun wares, the smaller the size of the vessel. These bulb bowls were often called 'drum-nail' bowls, as the bosses symmetrically spaced in relief around the rim recalled the pegs used to tighten the skin stretched on top of a drum to change pitch.

    Compare with published bulb bowls, of similar size and the same purple glaze covering the exterior wall and bluish interior, such as in The National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Illustrated Catalogue of Sung Dynasty Porcelain, pl. 66, and exhibited in A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum: Chun Ware, 1999, Catalogue, no. 32; and another bowl inscribed with the same numeral 'five', illustrated ibid., no. 33.

    Fragments of several 'drum-nail basins' of this form from the Jun ware kiln sites at Baguadong, Yuxian, Henan, with different numerals incised on the base, were included in the O. C. S. Exhibition of Kiln Sites of Ancient China, London, 1980, nos. 394-397.

    A nearly identical Junyao tripod 'narcissus' bowl, also bearing the inscribed number 'five', was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 27 May 2008, lot 1837.

    Provenance

    Acquired by the grandfather of the present owners, Whampoa, Guangdong, circa 1890-1920s, thence by descent within the family.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A NORTH-AMERICAN CHINESE FAMILY COLLECTION, FORMED DURING THE LATE QING DYNASTY