Lot 94. A large and four small Korean inlaid celadon 'crane' boxes and covers, Koryo dynasty, 13th century. Estimate 100,000 — 150,000 HKD (11,289 - 16,934 EUR). Lot sold 125,000 HKD (14,111 EUR). Photo Sotheby's.
each of cylindrical form, decorated in sanggam black and white inlay, the large box with a central medallion enclosing a pair of confronting cranes on the cover, encircled by further cranes in flight amongst scrolling clouds, all divided by bands of circles and double-line borders, the rims with key-fret bands, the small boxes with a pair of cranes on the cover and key-fret borders, all covered overall in a crackled sea-green glaze. The largest: 12 cm, 4 3/4 in.
Provenance: Mathias Komor, New York, 1960.
Bluett & Sons Ltd, London, 1960 (£110).
Collection of Roger Pilkington (1928-69), from 1960 (£150).
Note: The motif of cranes, carefully inlaid on this charming box and repeated on the covers of the smaller boxes, is steeped in auspicious symbolism, with the crane representing wishes for long life and a harmonious marriage. Boxes of this type were probably used as cosmetic boxes.
A box decorated with a similar design from the Ataka collection, is illustrated in Masterpieces of Chinese and Korean Ceramics in the Ataka Collection, Tokyo, 1980, pl. 255; and a slightly larger example is published in Sekai tōji zenshū[Catalogue of world’s ceramics], vol. 13, Tokyo, 1955, pl. 95 (below). See also slightly smaller boxes inlaid with a similar motif of cranes amongst clouds, such as one in the National Museum of Korea, Seoul, included in the Museum’s exhibition Koryŏ Celadon Masterpieces, Seoul, 1989, cat. no. 177; another from the collection of Alfred Schoenlicht, sold in our London rooms, 13th December 1955, lot 44; and a third sold in our New York rooms, 14th June 1977, lot 42.
Sotheby's. The Pilkington Collection of Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 06 Apr 2016