Lot 542. A rare 'Number Five' Jun tripod narcissus bowl, Yuan-Early Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century; 8 ¼ in. (20.9 cm.) diam. Estimate USD 150,000 - USD 200,000. Price realised USD 588,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2018
The sturdily potted bowl has a band of twenty 'nail-head' bosses applied between bow-string borders, and a further sixteen bosses above the threeruyi-form feet. The bowl is covered with a thick glaze, the interior of pale blue and lavender tone and the exterior mostly of mottled purple that thins to brownish-olive on the raised areas. The base has a thin brownish-olive glaze and a ring of spur marks revealing the grey body, and is incised with the character wu (five), Japanese wood box.
Provenance: A Hong Kong family collection, acquired first half of the 20th century.
Christie's Hong Kong, 27 May 2008, lot 1837.
Literature: Christie's, The Classic Age of Chinese Ceramics: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 2012, pp. 76-77, no. 23.
Exhibited: Christie's, The Classic Age of Chinese Ceramics: An Exhibition of Song Treasures from the Linyushanren Collection, Hong Kong, 22 to 27 November 2012; New York, 15 to 20 March 2013; London, 10 to 14 May 2013.
Note: The present bowl and the preceding jardinière (lot 541) belong to a group of Jun vessels comprising narcissus bowls, flower pots, and zun-shaped vases with prominent flanges, where each vessel has been incised or stamped with a Chinese numeral on the base. The numbers range from one to ten, and according to the Nanyao biji (Notes of the Nanyao), composed during the Qianlong reign, the numbers are indications that pair specific flower pots with stands. In recent years, scholars have also noted that the numbers appear to have a directly proportional relationship with the sizes of the vessels, with ten representing the smallest and one the largest. Jun narcissus bowls of this group appear in three styles, and are traditionally catalogued as ‘brush washers’, though the function of these bowls might well be stands of flower pots. The first style has a circular mouth rim with drum-nail bosses on the exterior, such as the present example. The second style has six-petal lobes, such as the ‘number nine’ example in the National Palace Museum, illustrated in A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum: Chun Ware, Taipei, 1999, p. 116-117, no. 41. And the third style has six molded bracket lobes at the flattened rim, such as the ‘number four’ bowl, also from the Linyushanren Collection, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 2 December 2015, lot 2812.
A rare 'numbered four' Jun bracket-lobed narcissus bowl, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century, from the Linyushanren Collection; 8 7/8 in. (22.5 cm.) wide. Sold for 5,080,000 HKD at Christie’s Hong Kong, 2 December 2015, lot 2812. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015
For two Jun bowls also inscribed with the number wu (five) on the base, but with a pale blue or “moon-white” glaze, see A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Chun Ware, Taipei, 1999, pp. 102-105, nos. 34 and 35. Other examples of similar form but with different numerals are illustrated ibid. pp. 88-101 and 107-108, nos. 27-33, and 36, and in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 32 - Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), Hong Kong, 1996, pp. 28-33, nos. 24-28.
A further 'number five’ Jun tripod bowl was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 15 September 2009, lot 341.
Christie's. The Classic Age of Chinese Ceramics - The Linyushanren Collection, Part III, 22 March 2018, New York