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A BLUE AND WHITE ZUN-FORM VASE

WANLI SIX-CHARACTER MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE WITHIN A DOUBLE CIRCLE AND OF THE PERIOD

Details
A BLUE AND WHITE ZUN-FORM VASE
Wanli Six-Character Mark in Underglaze Blue Within a Double Circle and of the Period
Painted in bright tones of underglaze blue with leafy lotus stems on the trumpet-shaped neck and the bulbous middle section, each zone incorporating four of the bajixiang and applied with a pair of flanges repeated on a spreading, stepped pedestal base decorated with two bands of foliate meander, all within linear borders, with a band of upright leaf tips rising from inside the neck to a double line border at the mouth rim
8¾in. (22.2cm.) high, box

Lot Essay

The inspiration for such vessels obviously lies in the archaic bronzes of the Shang dynasty, and the popularity of the shape is evident in its appearance in a variety of media, in addition to ceramics, such as cloisonné, later bronzes and jade

Before the Ming Dynasty, the appearance of this form in ceramics does not appear to have been widespread, although a Northern Song dynasty (early 12th century) jun ware vessel in this shape is illustrated by He Li in Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1996, p. 152, no. 245

The popularity of this shape during the Wanli period is seen in the number of different decorative designs in blue and white. The combination of scrolling lotus and bajixiang on the present example appears to be rather unusual. However, an example with related decoration of scrolling lotus around the middle and peony and bamboo on the neck is in the National Palace Museum, Taibei, and illustrated in Blue-and-White Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book V, Hong Kong, 1963, p. 38, pl. 9, and again in Blue-and-White Porcelain of the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, Taibei, 1988, p. 61

Other designs on these Wanli blue and white zun-form vases include dragons and phoenixes on the central section, such as the one in the John Gardner Coolidge Collection, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, vol. 10, Tokyo, 1980, fig. 239; and another with the same design included by Wang Qing-Zheng in Underglaze Blue and Red, Shanghai Museum, 1987, no. 165

For Wanli examples of zun painted in overglaze enamels see Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, vol. 8, Tokyo, 1982, fig. 248; Daisy Lion-Goldschmidt, Ming Porcelain, New York, 1978, p. 203; and a third included by Suzanne Valenstein in the exhibition of Ming Porcelains, China House Gallery, October 29, 1970 - January 31, 1971, Catalogue, no. 57
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