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    Sale 12249

    Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    8 November 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 60

    AN UNDERGLAZE-BLUE AND YELLOW ENAMELLED DOUBLE GOURD VASE

    QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN UNDERGLAZE-BLUE AND YELLOW ENAMELLED DOUBLE GOURD VASE
    QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)
    The lower section of the vase is of square form rising to a bulbous upper section. It is decorated all around the body with bats and gourds amongst leafy stems, all between scrolling bands to the mouth and foot rims.
    12 5/8 in. (32 cm.) high


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    The unusual form of this double-gourd vase with its round upper section and square lower section is one which first seems to appear in the Ming dynasty Jiajing reign (1552-66). Essentially the shape refers to the relationship between Heaven and Earth, with Heaven represented by the circular upper section and the Earth represented by the square lower part. In the Jiajing reign these symbolic shapes were part of Daoist beliefs, of which the emperor was an enthusiastic adherent.
    For a Jiajing example of a large blue and white double-gourd vase of this shape, see J. Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, p. 230, no. 9:34. The construction of such vessels must have presented a number of challenges to the potter, however, and the form largely fell from favour after 1566, until it was revived at the imperial kilns in the 18th century. Even with the technical expertise available in the 18th century, firing these vessels would have been difficult, and they remain very rare. They may have been made in the Qianlong reign in conjunction with the rebuilding of the relevant altars in 1751-2.

    A blue and white example with a very similar design of bats and gourds was included in the 45th Anniversary Exhibition of the Min Chiu Society, Hong Kong, Auspicious Emblems: Chinese Cultural Treasures, 25 November 2005 - 19 July 2006, p. 156, no. 65.