Lot 25. An exquisite Blue-and-White “Arrow Vase” Birdfeeder, Mark and period of Xuande; 5.9 cm., 2 1/2  in. Estimate 1,800,000 - 2,500,000 HKD. Unsold. Courtesy Sotheby's

delicately shaped in the form of a miniature 'arrow' vase for the pitch-pot game, with a pear-shaped body of eight-lobed section and a tall neck flanked by two small tubular lugs, set with a small loop on one side for attachment to the bars of a birdcage forming a three-dimensional extension to a cherry branch bearing eight fruits delicately painted in soft tones of cobalt under a blue-tinged glaze, all between two petal borders at the rim and foot, the lugs picked out with a 'classic' scroll, the neck inscribed in underglaze blue with a six-character horizontal reign mark, the recessed base glazed white and the footring left unglazed.

PROVENANCE: Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Clark, no.356 (label).
Sotheby’s London, 17th December 1996, lot 55.

LITERATURE: Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 4, no. 1656.

NOTE: Birdcage ‘vases’ such as this piece were probably filled with stalks of grain or other plants to serve as birdfeeders.

This design appears to be otherwise unrecorded and is not listed in the Gugong ciqi lu [Record of porcelains from the Old Palace], Taipei, 1961-6, an inventory of the Ming porcelains in the National Palace Museum, Taipei. Birdfeeders of various imaginative shapes were produced in the Xuande reign, but are hardly known from any other period.

A Xuande birdcage vase of this form painted with lotus scrolls was recovered from the waste heaps of the Ming imperial kilns at Jingdezhen, and included in the exhibition Jingdezhen chutu Ming Xuande guanyao ciqi/Xuande Imperial Porcelain Excavated at Jingdezhen, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1998, cat. no. 57-3.

Sotheby's. The Meiyintang Collection, Part V - An Important Selection of Imperial Chinese Porcelains. Hong Kong | 08 avr. 2013