Lot 3823. A rare early Ming tianbai-glazed monk's cap ewer, sengmaohu, Yongle period (1403-1424); 7 3/4 in. (19.6 cm.) high. Estimate HKD 300,000 - HKD 500,000. Price Realized HKD 1,100,000. © Christie's Images Ltd. 2011
The globular body tapering towards the splayed foot, with a pronounced ridge at the base of the slightly flared neck and the elongated, curved spout which projects from the galleried rim of 'monk's cap' outline, the peak of the rim rising above a small lug on the interior and beside the incised ruyi-head tab surmounting the curved strap-handle moulded with a median ridge and terminating on the high shoulder with another ruyihead, box.
The property of Dr Elizabeth Shing.
Note: This particular ewer form is a Lamaist Buddhist ritual vessel, which takes its name, sengmaohu monk's cap ewer, from the shape of its upper section, which resembles a Tibetan monk's hat. The Tibetan shape has its origins in the Yuan dynasty. Ewers of this form were made for the visit of the fifth Tibetan hierarch, Halima, to Nanjing in 1407, where he was invited by the Yongle emperor to officiate at religious services.
Among these and the gifts presented to high Tibetan Lamas would have been 'sweet white' monk's cap ewers similar to the current example. A number are still preserved in Tibet, and an example from the Tibet Museum was exhibited at the Shanghai Museum in 2001. See Treasures from Snow mountains - Gems of Tibetan Cultural Relics, Shanghai Museum, 2001, p. 177, no. 88. A similar ewer from the collection of Palace Museum, Beijing is illustrated in Monochrome Porcelain, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1999, p.109, pl. 100.