A Large Blue And White Double Gourd 'Shou Character' Vase. Ming Dynasty, Jiajing Period

robustly potted, each face of the lower square section painted with a large central Shou character within a roundel, surrounded by smaller similar characters with cloud scrolls, above a band of breaking waves at the foot, the upper globular section similarly decorated, below a band of ruyi at the neck. 63cm., 24 3/4 in. Estimate 25,000—35,000 GBP

NOTE: This impressive vase reflects the Jiajing emperor's fervent devotion to Daoism and his desire to attain immortality. Completely decorated with medallions containing variations of the character for long life, shou, the double gourd is also symbolic of longevity. A related example, but with shou characters surrounding large medallions containing the Daoist God of Long Life Shoulau on the lower body, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 21st September 2004, lot 243; and another was sold at Christie's London, 9th June 1997, lot 67. Compare vases of this type with a round lower section decorated with shou characters and roundels containing roundels of peach trees that form the character shou; such as one in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated in John Ayers, Far Eastern Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1980, pl. 159; another in the Ardebil Shrine, published in John Alexander Pope, Chinese Porcelain from the Ardebil Shrine, Washington, 1956, pl. 86, fig. 29.402; and a third example with peach trees on the upper section and roundels depicting boys at play on the lower, sold in these rooms, 13th June 1989, lot 227, and again at Christie's Hong Kong, 3rd November 1996, lot 549.

Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. 05 Nov 08. London. Photo courtesy Sotheby's. www.sothebys.com