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A Very Rare 'Numbered' Junyao Hexagonal Flower Pot. Yuan-early Ming Dynasty, 14th-15th Century.  Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012

The deep, faceted sides of the oblong, hexagonal planter are raised on six slightly curved, low supports, and flare upwards to the metal-bound rim. It is covered on the interior and exterior with a thick bubble-suffused glaze of milky-blue tone thinning to mushroom on the raised edges. The base, which is covered with a brown glaze wash, is pierced with six drainage holes, and incised with the number ba (eight). 8 3/8 in. (21.3 cm.) long, box - Estimate $40,000 - $60,000

元/明初 鈞窰天藍釉六方花盆

Notes: Junyao flower pots were made in a number of different shapes including a deep bell shape, a deep hexalobed shape with either a plain or barbed petal-lobed rim, a flared quadrilobed shape, a flared rectangular shape, and a flared hexagonal shape. The latter, of which the present flower pot is one, appears to be the most rare. Examples of all of the other shapes are represented in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, and illustrated in A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum: Chun Ware, Taipei, 1999, nos. 17-26, as well as two hexagonal stands with flared sides raised on six feet, nos. 47 and 48, that would have been the appropriate stand for the present flower pot shape. All of the flower pots and stands appear to have been inscribed on the brown-washed base with a number.

The Palace Museum, Beijing, also has all of the above shapes, including a rare hexagonal example, which are illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 32 - Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), Hong Kong, 1996, nos. 15-18, 20, 22 and 23. No. 22 is the hexagonal flower pot (22.5 cm. long), which is inscribed with the number 8 (ba), the same number inscribed on the bottom of the present pot, and the glaze color appears to be very similar. Only one other flower pot of hexagonal shape appears to be published. It was in the collection of Sir Percival David, Bt., and illustrated in the catalogue of The International Exhibition of Chinese Art, London, 1935-36, no. 1065, where it can be seen with its matching stand. Like the present pot, it is also inscribed with a number, 7 (qi). An hexagonal stand in the Percival David Foundation, inscribed with the number 10 (shi), was included in the exhibition,Arts de la Chine Ancienne, Musée de L'Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris, 1937, no. 539. 

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Part II, 13 September 2012. New York, Rockefeller Plaza