A fine and rare flambe-glazed 'elephant handle' pear-shaped vase, Qianlong six-character seal mark and of the period. Photo courtesy Bonhams.

The slender neck converging towards a thickly lipped mouth, flanked by a pair of thin elephant-head handles, all lustrously decorated in a thick purplish-red glaze with striking streaks of creamy bluish glaze, the base impressed with a six-character Imperial zhuanshuseal mark. 22cm highEstimate HK$ 1.2 million - 1.5 million (€110,000 - 140,000)


The form of the current lot is inspired by larger archaic bronze vessel examples, and is only recorded to have existed in the Qianlong period. The stylised elephant motifs handles at the neck can be interpreted as xiang, which forms the pun taiping youxiang which literally means 'a sign of peacefulness'. 

Compare a similar flambé-glazed vase dated to the Qianlong period in the Shenyang Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Prime Cultural Relics Collected by Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum. Porcelain. Volume II, 2007, p.147. See also another related example in the Huaihaitang collection, illustrated in Ethereal Elegance. Porcelain Vases of the Imperial Qing. The Huaihaitang Collection, Hong Kong, 2007, pp.236-237, no.75. See another flambé-glazed vase also with 'elephant' handles, illustrated by Liu Liang-yu, A Survey of Chinese Ceramics. Ch'ing Official and Popular Wares. Vol.5, Taipei, 1991, p.207. 

A similar flambé-glazed vase also with Qianlong seal mark and period was sold at Christie's New York, 24 March 2004, lot 235; another from an Italian private collection was also sold in our London rooms, 8 November 2012, lot 120. 

Bonhams. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART. Hong Kong. 24 Nov 2013 14:00 CST