Lot 2811. A rare 'number six' Jun zun-shaped vase, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century; 9 7/8 in. (25 cm.) high. Estimate HK$ 4,000,000 – HK$6,000,000 ($518,544 - $777,816). Price realised HKD 4,600,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015
The vase is sturdily potted in the form of an archaic bronze zun vessel with heavy flanges on four sides. The body is supported on a spalyed foot, surmounted by a wide trumpet neck. It is applied all over with a thick milky lavender-blue glaze suffused with purplish mottling, thinning to a greenish-brown colour at the rims. The counter sunken base is covered with brown slip, and the inner foot is incised with the numeral, liu, 'six', box.
Provenance: A Greek Private Collection, Sold at Sotheby's London, 12 July 2006, lot 36
Literature: Christie's, The Classical Age of Chinese Ceramics: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 2012, pp. 80-81, no. 25
Exhibited: Christie's, The Classical Age of Chinese Ceramics: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 22 to 27 November 2012; New York, 15 to 20 March 2013; London, 10 to 14 May 2013, Catalogue, no. 25
Notes: Jun ware zun-shaped vase of the present type is the rarest form among ‘numbered’ Jun wares. Known as Chuji zun(flanged zun) in Chinese, this form is inspired by Shang/Western Zhou ritual bronze wine vessel, zun. The Jun ware version successfully captures the architectonic quality of its bronze prototype by emphasizing the prominent flanges that articulate the vase’s vertical silhouette. A closely related Shang dynasty bronze zun vessel from the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, is illustrated in Ancient Chinese Arts in the Idemitsu Collection, Tokyo, 1989, Catalogue, no. 48. Both the present piece and the Idemitsu zun have short flanges on the neck and flanges covering the entire length of the body and the foot. Unlike the bronze zun, Jun ware zun-shaped vase has no surface decoration and its impact relies on the remarkable form and glaze. Traditional scholarship linked this archaistic form with the Emperor Huizong (1101-1126) who was a great connoisseur of archaic bronzes and a celebrated patron of ceramic production. However, recent scholarship has tended to support the idea that these fine quality numbered Jun vessels should date to the Yuan or early Ming dynasty, late 14th to early 15th century.
Shards of one Jun ware zun-shaped vase was excavated from the Juntai kiln in Yuzhou city, Henan province and was restored, illustrated in ‘Junyao shinian' (A Decade of Jun Ware Studies), Chinese Cultural Relics, March 2012, p. 79 (fig. 1).
fig. 1 A restored Jun ware zun-shaped vase, excavated from the Juntai kiln in Yuzhou city
There are about twelve Jun ware zun-shaped vases in the international collections. Two other known zun-shaped vases bearing the numeral six are in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, one with moon-white glaze, illustrated in Chun Ware, A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, 1999, pp. 38-39, no. 2; and the other one with lilac glaze, illustrated in ibid., pp. 40-41, no. 3. Another ‘number six’ Jun ware zun-shaped vase from the Robert Chang collection, was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 31 Oct 2000, lot 805. For further examples are in the National Palace Museum, illustrated in Chun Ware, A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, op. cit., pp. 36-37, no. 1 and pp. 42-49, no. 4-7, with moon-white glaze (number five); with grape-purple glaze (number eight); and the last three with moon-white glaze (number ten). Compare also to other Jun ware zun-shaped vases, one bearing the numeral 'three' in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated inPorcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1996, pp. 14-15, no. 12; one from the J.M. Hu collection in the Shanghai Museum illustrated in Selected Ceramics from the Collection of Mr & Mrs J. M. Hu, pl. 9 (fig. 2); and another one bearing the numeral 'four' from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco published by He Li, Chinese Ceramics: A New Comprehensive Survey, New York, 1996, no. 245.
fig. 2 A Jun ware zun-shaped vase, Shanghai Museum
Christie's. THE CLASSIC AGE OF CHINESE CERAMICS - THE LINYUSHANREN COLLECTION, PART I, 2 December 2015, Convention Hall