A rare Chinese Export blue and white cat nightlightPhoto: Christie's Images Ltd., 2012

His ears pricked and his mouth open revealing teeth, fangs and tongue, his round body and the long tail curled round his haunches with stripy fur markings and washy blue patches, a heart-shaped aperture in his back; 6 in. (15.2 cm.) wide. Estimate $4,000 - $6,000

NotesCat nightlights seem to have been made since the late Ming period. A blue and white example from the first salvaged Hatcher cargo, dating to the Transitional Period, was sold Christie's, Amsterdam, 14 March 1984, lot 279 (and cover of the catalogue.)

The Jesuit priest Père D'Entrecolles wrote from Jingdezhen in 1712 that "I have seen a cat painted after life, in the head of which a little lamp was put to illuminate the eyes, and was assured that in the night the rats were terrified by it"

hristie's. Chinese Export Art. 23 January 2012. New York, Rockefeller Plaza www.christies.com