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A VERY RARE AND FINELY CARVED QINGBAI ‘DRAGON’ EWER
A VERY RARE AND FINELY CARVED QINGBAI ‘DRAGON’ EWER

SOUTHERN SONG DYNASTY (1127-1279)

Details
A VERY RARE AND FINELY CARVED QINGBAI ‘DRAGON’ EWER
SOUTHERN SONG DYNASTY (1127-1279)
The ewer is well potted with a globular body that rests on a recessed base and rises to a short neck that tapers towards the lipped mouth rim. The body is boldly carved with large floral scrolls on a combed ground. The spout and handle are each adorned with a molded dragon mask with the eyes picked out in brown slip. It is covered with a translucent glaze of pale aquamarine tone pooling in the recesses with the exception of areas around the base revealing the biscuit body, the surface of which has re-oxidised at the end of the firing cycle.
5 ¾ in. (14.7 cm.) wide, Japanese wood box
Provenance
The Frederick M. Meyer Collection; Christie’s London, 24-25 June 1974, lot 70.
Bluett & Son, London.
Sen Shu Tey, Tokyo.
Literature
The Los Angeles County Museum, Chinese Ceramics from the Prehistoric Period Through Ch’ien Lung: A Loan Exhibition from Collections in America and Japan, Los Angeles, 1952, p. 82, no. 183.
Asia House Gallery, The Art of Southern Sung China, New York, 1962, no. 42.
Sen Shu Tey, The Collection of Chinese Art - Special Exhibition ‘Run Through 10 Years’, Tokyo, 2006, p. 67, no. 84.
Christie’s, The Classic Age of Chinese Ceramic: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 2012, pp. 154-55, no. 64.
Rosemary Scott, ‘Chinese Classic Wares from a Japanese Collection: Song Ceramics from the Linyushanren Collection’, Arts of Asia, March-April 2014, pp. 97-108, fig. 3.
Exhibited
The Los Angeles County Museum, Chinese Ceramics from the Prehistoric Period Through Ch’ien Lung: A Loan Exhibition from Collections in America and Japan, 1952.
Asia House Gallery, New York, The Art of Southern Sung China, 1962.
Sen Shu Tey, Tokyo, The Collection of Chinese Art - Special Exhibition ‘Run Through 10 Years’, 2006.
Christie’s, The Classical Age of Chinese Ceramics: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 22 to 27 November 2012; New York, 15 to 20 March 2013; London, 10 to 14 May 2013.

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Lot Essay

Qingbai porcelains have been discovered over a vast area from the Liao territories in the far North to nations in Southeastern Asia. It was arguably the most commercially successful Song ware. The finest qingbai porcelains were produced in the kilns at Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province. In his treatise Tao ji (Ceramic Records), the distinguished Southern Song (AD 1127-1279) historian Jiang Qi described exquisite, pure white porcelain and noted that it was popular over a wide region, and that, even outside the kiln area, it was known as Raoyu ‘jade of Rao’. Raozhou was the name of the region in which the Jingdezhen kilns were located. It seems probable that qingbai porcelains were also used by the Northern Song court. A widely cited entry in Song huiyao jigao (Collected Statutes of the Song Dynasty) states that: “A porcelain warehouse was established at Jianlong Square for the storage of white porcelain and lacquer wares from Mingzhou and Yuezhou (both in Zhejiang), Raozhou, Dingzhou (in Hebei) and Qingzhou (in Shandong).” This suggests that porcelains from Raozhou, which would be qingbai porcelains from Jingdezhen, were among those being stored and guarded in the Imperial Warehouse at the Northern Song capital, Kaifeng.

The present carved ewer with dragon head-shaped spout and handle is a fine example of qingbai porcelains produced at Jingdezhen. Although the sculpted dragons and carved floral design were popular motifs on qingbai wares, the combination of both on a globular ewer appears to be unique. A qingbai ewer of very similar form and decorative technique, but with a plain spout and handle is illustrated by J. Wirgin, Sung Ceramic Designs, London, 1979, pl. 23c. Another qingbai ewer of similar form, but lacking the sculpted dragon design is illustrated by Gakuji Hasebe, Sekai toji zenshu, vol. 12, Tokyo, 1977, pl. 159. Compare, also, qingbai ewers with sculpted dragon designs illustrated in J. Wirgin, Sung Ceramic Designs, ibid., pl. 28 a-e.

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