A rare Longquan celadon vase, zun, Yuan-Ming dynasty (1279-1644)

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Lot 108. A rare Longquan celadon vase, zun, Yuan-Ming dynasty (1279-1644). 9 ½ in. (24 cm.) high. Estimate HKD 300,000 - HKD 500,000Price realised HKD 687,500© Christie's Images Ltd 2017.

The vase is in the form of an archaic bronze zun, sturdily potted with a compressed globular mid-section, rising from a splayed foot to a tall trumpet neck, each register divided by four vertical crenelated flanges, applied overall with an unctuous sea-green glaze, gold brocade wrapper, Japanese wood box.

NoteCeladon vases of this archaic form were made in the Longquan and guan kilns from as early as the Southern Song dynasty and continued throughout the Ming dynasty. Fragments of zun of similar form were recovered from the Laohudong kiln site, Hangzhou. A closely related Longquan celadon example dated to the Southern Song period, from the collection of Tokyo National Museum, was included in the exhibition Longquan Ware: Chinese Celadon Beloved of the Japanese, Yamaguchi, 2012, pl. 29; another related Yuan example with similar design of flanges, in the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, Hangzhou, is illustrated in Celadon from Longquan Kilns, Taipei, 2014, pl. 150, p. 177. Compare also to two Yuan examples of similar shape with varied designs of flanges, from the collection of Sir Percival David, London, illustrated in Stacey Pierson, Illustrated Catalogue of Celadon Wares in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1997, p. 25, no. 221 and ibid., p. 29, no. 234. Another Longquan celadon zun vase, with similar crenelated flanges but of a slightly different shape, dated to the Ming dynasty, is in the collection of Kuboso Memorial Museum of Arts, Izumi and illustrated in Sensei Bansei to Ryusenyo no Seiji [Bansei, Sensei and Celadon of Longquan Wares], Izumi, 1996, no. 116.

Vase modelled after an ancient bronze, Yuan dynasty, AD 1280–1368

Vase modelled after an ancient bronze, Yuan dynasty, AD 1280–1368. Stoneware, porcelain-type, carved, sprig-moulded decoration and celadon glaze, Longquan ware, Longquan region, Zhejiang province, Height: 24,5 cm, Sir Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, PDF 221 © 2017 Trustees of the British Museum

Longquan porcelain vase of archaic bronze gu or zun shape, with a globular midsection expanding to flared mouth and foot rims. The vase has pale greyish green glaze. There are four vertical rows of bosses on the central section, and four vertical strips with spiral decoration on the upper and lower sections.

This celadon vase is modelled after an ancient ritual drinking vessel called a gu. Wealthy aristocrats and generals of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, (about 1600–256 BC), buried bronze vessels as part of ritual eating and drinking equipment for tombs. The shape was transformed into a vase in the Song dynasty (AD 960–1279) as catalogues of collections of antiques were published with woodblock-printed illustrations. Related gu vases with less well-defined decoration were recovered from the Sinan shipwreck of AD1323. This ship was sunk in the waters near the Dokdo islets off the Shinan coast in south-west Korea. Of the 17,000 ceramics on board, over half were from Longquan. The ship is believed to have been travelling from Ningbo in southern China to Korea, on its way to Japan.

Vase modelled after an ancient bronze, Yuan dynasty, AD 1280–1368

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Vase modelled after an ancient bronze, Yuan dynasty, AD 1280–1368. Stoneware, porcelain-type, carved, sprig-moulded decoration and celadon glaze, Longquan ware, Longquan region, Zhejiang province, Height: 19,2 cmSir Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, PDF 234 © 2017 Trustees of the British Museum

Refer also to the Southern Song example of a guan zun vase with four divided low flanges, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Sung Dynasty Kuan Ware, Taipei, 1989, pl.2, p. 48.

Celadon-glazed zun vessel, Guan ware, Southern Song dynasty, height 25

Celadon-glazed zun vessel, Guan ware, Southern Song dynasty, height 25.9cm © National Palace Museum, Taipei.

Christie's. The Pavilion Sale Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 2 October 2017, Alexandra House, Hong Kong