A green-glazed 'Boy and Phoenix' ewer, Northern Song or Liao dynasty, 10th-12th century

Lot 1136. A green-glazed 'Boy and Phoenix' ewer, Northern Song or Liao dynasty, 10th-12th century, 7 ¼ in. (18.4 cm.) high. Estimate USD 20,000 - USD 30,000Price realised USD 131,250. © Christie's Images Ltd 2017

The ewer is molded in the shape of a boy seated on the back of a phoenix, the flower-form mouth rising from the top of the tail. It is covered overall with a green glaze, except for the interior of the foot, and the foot ring has three spur marks.

Provenance: J.J. Lally & Co., New York, 25 February 2005.
Peter Scheinman (1932-2017) Collection, New York.

NoteThe present ewer is not only charming, but also very rare, and very few examples appear to have been published. However, a Ding ewer in the form of a boy riding a chicken excavated in 1971 from Chenmin, Dingxian, Hebei province, is illustrated in Zhongguo taoci quanji (Compendium of Chinese Ceramics), vol. 9, Dingyao, Japan, 1981, no. 97. Another Ding ewer in the form of a boy riding a duck is illustrated in Homage to Heaven, Homage to Earth: Chinese Treasures of the Royal Ontario Museum, Hong Kong, 1992, p. 61, pl. 28 (right). 

The present ewer can also be compared to a group of Liao ewers which are formed as hybrid mythical beasts, with a human head and the body of a fish or a bird. See, for example, a white-glazed ewer with a man's head and a dragon-fish body with wings, excavated in 1976 from a Liao dynasty site at Wulantaohai, Balinzuoqi, Inner Mongolia, and illustrated in Complete Collection of Ceramic Art Unearthed in China, vol. 4, Beijing, 2008, no. 60.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 14 - 15 September 2017, New York