A rare and finely carved Ding 'lotus' dish, Northern Song dynasty, 11th-12th century

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A rare and finely carved Ding 'lotus' dish, Northern Song dynasty, 11th-12th century. Estimate HK$3,000,000 – HK$5,000,000 ($388,908 - $648,180). Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015

The dish has angled sides rising from a broad base supported on a short foot to a flaring rim which is bound with a copper band. The interior is skilfully carved and combed to depict a single lotus sprig, adorned with sketchily carved leaves. It is covered in a pale ivory glaze pooling in areas to the base, part of which is unglazed and has been fired to a slightly warmer tone. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm.), diam., Japanese wood box

ProvenanceEdward T. Chow Collection, sold at Sotheby's London, 16 December 1980, lot 250
Eskenazi ltd., London
Christie's Hong Kong, 29 April 2002, lot 603
Sen Shu Tey, Tokyo

LiteratureCecile and Michael Beurdeley, La Ceramique Chinoise, Fribourg, 1974, no. 77
Christie's, Christie's 20 Years in Hong Kong 1986 - 2006: Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Highlights, Hong Kong, 2006, p. 24
Sen Shu Tey, The Collection of Chinese Art, Tokyo, 2006, p. 52, no. 59
Guiseppe Eskenazi, A Dearlers Hand: The Chinese Art World through the Eyes of Guiseppe Eskenazi, London, 2012, p. 82, fig. 70
Christie's, The Classical Age of Chinese Ceramics: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 2012, pp. 32-33, no. 6

ExhibitedSen Shu Tey, Special Exhibition Run Through 10 Years, Tokyo, 2006, Catalogue, no. 59 (right)
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. 6 (left)

NotesThree other known Ding dishes of very similar form and design are known. The first is the companion to the present piece, formerly in the collections of Edward T. Chow and Robert Chang, and is currently in the Linyushanrencollection, illustrated in The Classic Age of Chinese Ceramics: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 2012, Catalogue, no. 6, right. The second dish with carved lotus spray meandering towards the right, is from the Meiyintang Collection in the Museum Rietberg, Zurich, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994, vol. 1, p. 205, no. 362. The third piece also with a right-hand turned lotus was formerly with Eskenazi Ltd., London, illustrated in A Dearlers Hand: The Chinese Art World through the Eyes of Guiseppe Eskenazi, London, 2012, p. 284, no. 273. Also compare with a related example carved with a peony spray on the interior and peony scroll on the exterior, illustrated by Tsai Meifen, Decorated Porcelains of Dingzhou: White Ding Wares from the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2014, p. 86-87, no. II-41.

It is interesting to note that somewhat similar dishes can also be found in Southern Song Yue ware. Excavations at Silongkou Yue ware kiln site have revealed dishes of similar form and decoration from the Southern Song stratum; seeSilongkou yueyao zhi (Silongkou Yue Ware Kiln Site), Beijing, 2002, pp. 108-113. In order to assert his legitimacy to the throne, the Southern Song Emperor Gaozong made huge efforts in re-establishing the Northern Song imperial rites and court life after fleeing to Hangzhou. According to the Southern Song official book, Zhongxing lishu (Book of Rites in the Age of Revival), in the 1st and 4th year of the Shaoxing reign (1131, 1134), the Southern Song court ordered Yuezhou and Shaoxingfu Yuyaoxian to produce ceramic ritual vessels for the imperial sacrificial hall. Gaozong not only ordered local Yue kilns to make ritual vessels but also daily wares in the Northern Song imperial style. A shard of Southern Song Yue ware dish with very similar form and design bearing yuchu (Imperial Kitchen) mark was found in Hangzhou, illustrated in Jin Zhiwei, ‘Yuchu zikuan yueci zaitan’ (Study of Yue Wares Bearing Yuchu Marks), Palace Museum Journal, 2001, no. 1, pl. 8. 

Decorated Ding wares were not only treasured by the Song imperial court, but also appealed to the literati elite in the Northern Song dynasty. In a 1072 poem titled Shiyuan jiancha, Su Shi (1037-1101) wrote Dingzhou huaci zhuo hongyu(decorated porcelain of Dingzhou carves red jade). According to Tsai Meifen, Su Shi used metaphors here to depict the impression of the decorative patterns in the liquid surface of tea after pouring red tea into a decorated white Ding bowl. This is an example of decorated Ding ware being used by literati for drinking tea. An excavated covered box decorated with a similar floral pattern to the current dish is illustrated in Yishi tongdiao: Shanxi Lantian lvshi jiazu mudi chutu wenwu (Different World Same Tones: Cultural Relics from the Shaanxi Lantian Lü Family Cemetery), Beijing, 2013, pp. 162-163, no. 57.

 

Christie's. THE CLASSIC AGE OF CHINESE CERAMICS - THE LINYUSHANREN COLLECTION, PART I, 2 December 2015, Convention Hall