A fine and rare carved celadon-glazed octagonal vase. Seal mark and period of Qianlong

of finely potted square section with chamfered corners, the sides tapering gradually towards the base supported on a short splayed foot, finely and crisply carved in low relief at the mid-section with an elegant central archaic frieze of four pairs of confronted strapwork dragons and phoenix alternating with similarly paired dragons at the beveled corners, all between lappet bands and narrows bands of strapwork dragons, the sharply angled shoulders with a band of overlapping upright leaf lappets, with two further decorative collars around the flared rim, with ruyi-shaped lappets skirting the foot, all evenly dressed with a silky sea-green glaze softening at the rim, shoulders and carving to enhance the decoration, inscribed on the base with the six-character seal mark in underglaze-blue. 31.8 cm., 12 1/2 in. Estimate 2,000,000—3,000,000 HKD

PROVENANCE: A Private Japanese Collection.

NOTE: The present vase is remarkable for its magnificent celadon glaze, intricately carved relief decoration and elegant facetted form. The elaborate nature of this vase, with archaistic friezes of strapwork dragons and phoenixes and stylised stiff leaves, reflects the Qianlong Emperor's fondness for antiquity and epitomises his favoured ornate style. Qing decorative schemes were often inspired by archaic bronzes and jades and such works were intended to evoke the past, thus signifying the Emperor's all-encompassing role as preserver of Chinese cultural traditions.

Two closely related vases were sold in these rooms, 2nd May 2000, lot 613, and 2nd November 1994, lot 114. Qianlong vases of this shape, but with plain body and various glazes, are known; such as a celadon-glazed example, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28th November 2005, lot 1305; and another vase with Ru-type glaze, published in the Illustrated Catalogue of Tokyo National Museum. Chinese Ceramics II, Tokyo, 1990, cat. no. 721. Compare also a finely carved celadon-ground vase of similar form, but decorated with two panels of landscapes in famille-rose enamels, sold in these rooms, 21st May 1980, lot 255, and now in the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, included in the exhibition The Wonders of the Potter's Palette, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1984, cat. no. 69.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. 08 Apr 09. Hong Kong www.sothebys.com photo courtesy Sotheby's