Lot 3819. An extremely rare and very large early Ming tianbai-glazed charger, Yongle period (1403-1425); 16 in. (40.6 cm.) diam. Estimate HKD 1,200,000 - HKD 1,500,000. Price Realized HKD 1,220,000. © Christie's Images Ltd. 2011
Sturdily potted with rounded sides, supported on a wedge-shaped foot ring, covered in an even unctuous transparent glaze, box.
Note: Among sherds excavated from the Yongle stratum, the most abundant are white glazed wares, particularly those decorated with tianbai or 'sweet white' glaze. It has been mentioned that the term tianbai was an appellation related to sugar, and the name appeared as early as 1591 as recorded in text written by Huang Yizheng, Shiwu Ganzhu, cf. Imperial Porcelain of the Yongle and Xuande Periods, Excavated from the Site of the Ming Imperial Factory at Jingdezhen, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 71. Further tests on the body material of tianbai wares, it is discovered that in order to produce this distinctive colour, the potters had increased the proportion of kaolin in the clay. This would have required a higher firing temperature and thus resulted in the white paste.
The increased number of white wares during the Yongle period was probably due to the personal taste of the Emperor and his liking for white as a colour is exemplified by the Bao'ensi Pagoda which was built with a facade of white bricks, ibid., 1989, pp. 72-73.