A blue and white "conch" buddhist emblem, Ming Dynasty, early 15th century. Photo Sotheby's

a conche finement modelée surgissant de flots tumultueux au dessus d'une base figurant des rochers, le bleu sous couverte rehaussant les reliefs en s'oxydant vers le noir par endroits, la base non-émaillée ; petites sautes d'émail, fêle de cuisson à la base ; 27,5 cm, 10 7/8 in. Estiùate 30,000-40,000 - Unsold.

Note: Porcelain Buddhist altar emblems are well known from the Qing dynasty; however these are extremely rare from any earlier period. A comparable 'twin fish' Buddhist altar emblem sold in these rooms, 18th December 2009, lot 239. Many different types of potted blue and white animals exist in various forms. For example, compare a mandarin duck-shaped water-dropper in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Special Exhibition of Selected Hsuan-te Imperial Porcelains of the Ming Dynasty, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1998, cat. no. 4. The handling of the underglaze blue used to depict the layered feathers of its wings is very similar to the way in which the scales of the fish on this emblem have been executed. Compare also the similarities between the lotus pedestal of this emblem with an early-Ming lotus leaf cover which accompanies a blue and white jar from the Sir Percival David Collection, now in the British Museum, London, published in Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections, vol. 6, London, 1982, pl. 101.

Sets of eight Buddhist altar emblems, including the conch, are known in various materials from the Qing dynasty; for example see a porcelain and a bronze set in situ in imperial palace buildings, illustrated in Cultural Relics of Tibetan Buddhism Collection in the Qing Palace, Beijing, 1992, pls. 99-1 and 103.

Sotheby's. Arts d'Asie. paris, 8 juin 2011 www.sothebys.com