• Important Chinese Lacquer from auction at Christies

    Sale 2730

    Important Chinese Lacquer from the Lee Family Collection

    1 December 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1822

    AN EXTREMELY RARE EARLY MING CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER 'DRAGON' BOWLSTAND

    Price Realised  

    AN EXTREMELY RARE EARLY MING CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER 'DRAGON' BOWLSTAND
    XUANDE SIX-CHARACTER MARK AND OF THE PERIOD (1426-1435)

    Carved around the gently rounded metal-bodied sides through the layers of lustrous deep crimson lacquer to the ochre ground with two striding five-clawed dragons amongst billowing cloud scrolls with ruyi heads, the design repeated with three further striding dragons to the interior of the tray, the underside of the tray and the foot encircled by cloud scrolls with further ruyi, the interior lacquered brown with the six-character reign mark inscribed and gilt vertically in a line to the interior of the foot
    5 1/8 in. (13.1 cm.) diam., box


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    The use of stands was a practical development for the drinking of hot liquid from tea bowls without handles. In the Zu xia lu (Record of Leisurely Enjoyment) the 9th century author Li Kuangyi stated that the first bowl stands were made in the Jianzong reign (AD 780-83). However, the earliest bowl stand excavated to date comes from a Jin dynasty tomb in Changsha, Hunan province. Certainly by the Song dynasty bowl stands were very popular in both lacquer and ceramics.

    Extant lacquer bowlstands from the early 15th century are very rare. Three different sizes of bowlstands appear to have been made in the 15th century (10.5 cm., 9 cm. and 8.3 cm.) and this example belonging to the rare smallest group, appears to be the only published example carved with a dragon motif. Compare, however, two larger Yongle examples, each decorated with a pair of phoenix in flight, the first in the Palace Museum collection, Beijing, illustrated in Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 2006, p. 44, no. 27; and another with an additional Qianlong poem, also from the Lee Family Lacquer Collection sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 3 December 2008, lot 2119 (fig. 1).

    Compare the carving of the dragons and cloud scrolls on the present example with a Xuande-marked circular box and cover in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 2006, p. 79, no. 56.

    Provenance

    Mayuyama & Co.
    Bluett & Son, 1980


    Literature

    Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Volume Two, Mayuyama & Co., Ltd, Tokyo, 1976, no, 215
    Zhongguo Qiqi Quanji, vol. 5, Ming, Fujian meishu chubanshe, 1995, no. 39
    Zhongguo Qiqi Jinghua, Fujian meishu chubanshe, 2003, no. 197
    Wang Shixiang, Ancient Chinese Lacquerware, Beijing, 1987, no. 82


    Exhibited

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1982, Far Eastern Lacquer, Catalogue, no. 18
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1993, 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer, Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong and the Art Gallery, no. 48
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990/91
    The Shoto Museum of Art, Shibuya, Japan, 1991, Chinese Lacquerware, Catalogue, no. 54