A rare blue and white porcelain ewer made for the Islamic market, China, Ming


Lot 348. A rare blue and white porcelain ewer made for the Islamic market, China, Ming Dynasty, Yongle period, 1403-1424 AD, with Ottoman Tombak Mounts, 17th-18th Century; 30.4cm height. Estimate: 150,000 - 200,000 GBP. Lot sold 181,250 GBP. Photo Sotheby's 2011

of pyriform form with a bulbous base and tapering neck supported on a narrow ring foot, the sloping shoulder with serpentine handle and spout with attached foliate bracket, the spout and neck terminating in a domed and arcaded tombakmount with detachable cover and chain, the porcelain body decorated in underglaze cobalt blue reserved on white with two large lotus palmettes issuing scrolling tendrils with split and full palmette buds, the neck decorated with an arcade of cloudband clips, the underbelly with a register of overlapping leaves, the spout and handle with foliate scrolls and floral sprays

Exhibited: Exposition Doha, capitale culturelle arabe 2010, Ambassade du Qatar à Paris, du 5 au 9 juin 2010

Note: Yongle period ewers of this type are extant in various museums and private collections worldwide. The present example is particularly unusual for its decoration incorporating a large-bloomed lotus scroll amid leaves painted on either side of the vessel. The motif to the base of the ewer, comprising a register of upright leaves, is also rare, making this piece a unique example amongst this well-known group of early fifteenth-century ceramics. A comparable early-fifteenth-century Ming dynasty ewer with Ottoman mounts is in the Topkapi Saray Museum (see Roxburgh 2005, pp.310-11, no.273). The distinctive pear-shaped form with bracketed spout is also seen in three early-fifteenth-century Ming ewers that were in the Ardebil shrine, now in the National Museum in Tehran (see Pope 1981, pl.54). A similar pattern of monumental lotuses and palmette tendrils can also be found on an early-fifthteenthcentury vase and bowl from the Ardebil shrine (ibid. pls.49, 51). 

For further examples of early-fifteenth-century Chinese blue and white ewers in the Topkapi Saray Museum, see R. Krahl, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, vol.II, London, 1986, pp.519-520, nos.617-621, colour plates pp.425-27.

Sotheby's, Arts of the Islamic World, London | 05 Oct 2011