A fine and rare early Ming anhua decorated tianbai stembowl, Yongle four-character sealmark and of the period (1403-1425) 

Lot 2922. A fine and rare early Ming anhua decorated tianbai stembowl, Yongle four-character sealmark and of the period (1403-1425). Estimate HKD 3,000,000 - HKD 5,000,000 (USD 390,000 - USD 650,000)Price Realised HKD 4,220,000 (USD 544,279)© Christie's Images Ltd 2011.

Thinly potted with deep rounded sides rising to a flared rim, supported on a tall slightly spreading hollow foot, covered overall with a creamy-white tianbai glaze and finely decorated in anhua on the interior with the Eight Buddhist Emblems encircling the sealmark inside a ring of radiating lotus petals - 6 in. (15.1 cm.) diam., box 

ProvenancePreviously sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 24 November 1987, lot 40 

NotesThe present stembowl has the beautifully balanced profile characteristic of the early 15th century, and is covered in the soft lustrous white glaze, which is called tianbai or 'sweet white' in Chinese. This glaze was developed in the Yongle reign and appears to have been a particular favourite of the emperor. More than ninety percent of the porcelains from this period, which were found at the site of the imperial kilns, were white wares. This reflects the aesthetic preference of the emperor, who demonstrated a special appreciation of plain white items, such as white jades. It is also a reflection of his adherence to Lamaist Buddhism. The anhua, or 'secret decoration' around the sides of this stembowl depicts the Eight Buddhist Emblems.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art. Hong Kong, 30th November 2011