AN EXCEPTIONAL BLUE AND WHITE INDIAN LOTUS ‘PALACE’ BOWL
AN EXCEPTIONAL BLUE AND WHITE INDIAN LOTUS ‘PALACE’ BOWL
AN EXCEPTIONAL BLUE AND WHITE INDIAN LOTUS ‘PALACE’ BOWL
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AN EXCEPTIONAL BLUE AND WHITE INDIAN LOTUS ‘PALACE’ BOWL
4 More
AN EXCEPTIONAL BLUE AND WHITE INDIAN LOTUS ‘PALACE’ BOWL

CHENGHUA SIX-CHARACTER MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE WITHIN A DOUBLE CIRCLE AND OF THE PERIOD (1465-1487)

Details
AN EXCEPTIONAL BLUE AND WHITE INDIAN LOTUS ‘PALACE’ BOWL
CHENGHUA SIX-CHARACTER MARK IN UNDERGLAZE BLUE WITHIN A DOUBLE CIRCLE AND OF THE PERIOD (1465-1487)
The thinly potted bowl is finely painted in exceptionally strong washed-blue tones around the exterior with an undulating lotus scroll comprising six blooms, underneath a double-band around the mouth and above two double-bands on the foot. The interior is left plain. The base is inscribed with the reign mark in a double circle. The bowl is covered overall with clear glaze with a lustrous, satiny sheen.
6 in. (15.2 cm.) diam., box
Provenance
A private English family collection, formed before the mid-20th century

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Priscilla Kong
Priscilla Kong

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Lot Essay

The Chenghua ‘Palace’ bowls are one of the most treasured types of Ming blue and white porcelain. The present bowl is finely potted and delicately painted on the exterior using locally sourced cobalt blue pigment pingdenqing with six Indian lotuses borne on an undulating stem. From the soft and elegant tone of the underglaze blue, the fluid and confident outlines of the design, to the thick and unctuous transparent glaze with a pink undertone and a jade-like quality, the present ‘Palace’ bowl encompasses the most ideal characteristics of Chenghua porcelain. The six-character reign mark is also very well written, in a forceful manner using the mid-section of the brush to create full and rounded strokes.

The motif of Indian lotuses was reserved exclusively for the use of the Ming imperial court. According to an entry listed under the heading chaofu, ‘court attire’ in the section of guanfu ‘headdresses in Ming huidian (The Code of the Great Ming Dynasty), “In the 2nd year of the Tianshun reign (1458), an imperial decree was issued forbidding the use of mang dragons and Indian lotuses on attires of the officials and civilians.” In the 1620 edition of Libu zhigao (Drafted Monograph of the Board of Rites) , an entry dated to the 16th year of the Hongwu reign records the restrictian in the use of Indian lotus to members of the imperial court, while another entry dated to the 2nd year of the Chenghua reign (1466) forbids officials and civilians from wearing colours and designs that are beyond their social statuses. A Yongle flattened globular vase in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Imperial Porcelains from the Reigns of Hongwu and Yongle in the Ming Dynasty, Beijing, 2015, p. 166, no. 76 (fig. 1), is painted in reserve blue and white with a dragon above waves on the body, below a blue and white Indian lotus scroll on the neck that is very similar to that seen on the present bowl, further testifying to the close association of Indian lotuses with the Ming imperial power.

The current bowl is nearly identical to the ‘Palace bowl’ that used to be kept in the Jingyang Palace in the Forbidden City, now in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, see Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Cheng-hua Porcelain Ware, Taipei, 2003, p. 49, no. 23 (fig. 2). According to the inventory check conducted by the National Palace Museum, Taipei in 1962, there are only two Chenghua ‘Palace’bowls with this type of Indian lotus design in their collection, see Gugong ciqilu, vol. 2, Ming-jia, Taipei, 1952, p. 213. It is important to note that no ‘Palace’ bowl of this design appears to be in the Palace Museum, Beijing.

Two other examples of this design are known, one is in the British Museum, see Catalogue of Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, 2014, p. 205, fig. 6-5; another in the Percival David Collection now on loan to the British Museum, see The British Museum Chinese Ceramics Highlights of the Sir Percival David Collection, Beijing, 2013, no. 36.

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