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A bronze alms bowl incense burner, late Ming-early Qing dynasty. Est. HKD 100,000 — 150,000. Lot sold 2,960,000 HKD (381,929 USD). Photo: Sotheby's

heavily cast of compressed globular form, elegantly formed with broad rounded shoulders below a small lipped rim, the flat base centred with a six-character mark reading Xuehai Tangzhuren zhi ('Made for the Master of the Xuehai Hall') within a recessed panel, the bronze richly patinated to a deep brown colour - 14.2 cm., 5 5/8  in.

ProvenanceDavid Rote Antiques Ltd., London, 1981.

NotesThis elegantly cast vessel is notable for its form, after a Buddhist alms bowls. Among later bronzes, alms bowls were converted into incense burners for the scholar's studio, although more commonly found with two ring handles on the body. This is a more elegant version of the type, intricately cast with an apocryphal six-character Xuande reign mark.

For a gold-splashed bowl, also with an apocryphal Xuande six-character reign mark, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, see the exhibition Guan cang yadiao ji Ming, Qing tonglu tezhan / Special Exhibition of Ivory Carvings and Ming and Qing Incense Burners from the Museum's Collection, Kumamoto City Museum, Kumamoto, 1997, cat. no. 178. See also a plain bronze bowl of this type, attributed to the Ming dynasty, published in Paul Moss and Gerard Hawthorn, The Second Bronze Age. Later Chinese Metalwork, London, 1991, pl. 45.

Compare also two other examples of bronze alms bowl incense burners, both from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, a small Yongzheng reign-marked example sold in these rooms, 8th April 2014, lot 203, and a gold-splashed vessel inscribed with the mark baoyong ('for treasured use'), sold in these rooms, 8th April 2013, lot 117.

Sotheby's. Later Chinese Bronzes From The Collection of Mr And Mrs Gerard Hawthorn. Hong Kong, 03 Dec 2015