A fine peachbloom-glazed beehive waterpot, taibai zun, Kangxi six-character mark in undergalze blue and of the period (1672-1722)

A fine peachbloom-glazed beehive waterpot, taibai zun, Kangxi six-character mark in undergalze blue and of the period (1672-1722)

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Lot 3012. A fine peachbloom-glazed beehive waterpot, taibai zun, Kangxi six-character mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1672-1722), 4 15/16 in. (12.5 cm.) diam., box. Estimate HKD 800,000 - HKD 1,200,000 (USD 103,192 - USD 154,788) © Christie’s Images Limited 2017.

The rounded sides rising to a short, slightly flaring neck, incised with three archaistic dragon roundels beneath a glaze of even, crushed strawberry tone suffused with mottled areas of copper-green, the rim, interior and base white. 

ProvenanceSold at Christie’s New York, 6 June 1985, lot 441
A private collection, Milan, Italy
Property from a European Collection
Sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 November 2011, lot 2924 

NoteWaterpots of this form are known as Taibai zun, after the Tang dynasty poet Li Bai who was also named Li Taibai (701-762). In later imageries Li Bai, a renowned drinker of wine, is often depicted leaning against a large wine vat of this shape. The vessel's shape is also known as jichao zun because their shape resembles that of a basketwork chicken coop that is woven with a small opening at the top through which the chicks are fed.

Peachbloom-glazed vessels were highly treasured by the Kangxi Emperor, and were primarily fired as small-sized scholar's objects for the Emperor's table. Beehive water pots belong to a group of peachbloom-glazed vessels for the scholar's table known as Badama, 'Eight Great Numbers'. This group was previously thought to comprise a total of eight differing shapes. John Ayers identified a possible ninth form of the Badama by pointing out the existence of two slightly different globular water pots. The first is termed as a pingguo zun, 'apple jar' modelled with a gently inward curving mouth rim; and the other with a raised, low, neck (similar to a stalk) that maybe referred to as a Shiliu, or 'pomegranate jar'. See, J. Ayers, 'The 'Peachbloom Wares of the Kangxi Period (1662-1722), Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 64, 1999-2000, p. 49.  

The firing of peachbloom-glazed wares involved a complex procedure which required colourants to be blown onto a surface covered with transparent glaze, which was then applied with an additional layer of transparent glaze before being fired in high temperature. 

Similar peachbloom-glazed waterpots are found in various museums and collections worldwide, including one in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, illustrated in Earth, Fire and Water: Chinese Ceramic Technology, London, 1996, no. 24, p. 34; one in the Baur Collection, Catalogue, vol. III, Geneva, 1999, nos. A305, A310 and A313-A316; a full set of the eight vessels in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated by S.G. Valenstein, A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, New York, 1989, p. 237, pl. 236; and one in the British Museum, Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, vol. 5, Tokyo, 1981, no. 230.  

Compare also to a similar waterpot of the same size, from the J. Insley Blair Collection and sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2112; and one from the YC Chen Collection, sold at 29 May 2013, lot 1904.

A peachbloom-glazed beehive waterpot, Kangxi six-character mark and of the period (1672-1722)

A peachbloom-glazed beehive waterpot, Kangxi six-character mark and of the period (1672-1722) from the J. Insley Blair CollectionPrice realised HKD 1,940,000 (USD 251,540) at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2112© Christie’s Images Limited 2013.

A fine peachbloom-glazed beehive waterpot, Kangxi six-character mark and of the period (1672-1722)

A fine peachbloom-glazed beehive waterpot, Kangxi six-character mark and of the period (1672-1722)from the YC Chen CollectionPrice realised HKD 2,310,000 (USD 298,969) at Christie's Hong Kong, 29 May 2013, lot 1904© Christie’s Images Limited 2013.

Christie's. The Imperial Sale / Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 31 May 2017, Convention Hall, Hong Kong