A rare blue and white 'five-clawed dragon' tazza Qianlong seal mark in a line and of the period


Lot 288. A rare blue and white 'Five-clawed dragon' tazza, Qianlong seal mark in a line and of the period (1736-1795); 23.1cm (9 1/8in) diam. Sold for £ 7,500 (€ 8,460). Courtesy Bonhams.

Modelled as a shallow dish with angular sides decorated with a band of undulating floral scrolls, raised on an elegantly flaring stem foot painted with a wrathful five-clawed dragon striding amidst billowing clouds in pursuit of the flaming pearl, on a ground of foaming and crashing waves and an emerging carp.

Provenance: an English private collection, and thence by descent.

Note: The theme of carp and dragons, as in the present lot, originates from a legend that a carp which could leap the falls of the Yellow River at Dragon Gate would be transformed into a dragon. The motif thus became synonymous with hopes for success or victory. 

Compare with a very similar blue and white tazza, Kangxi six-character mark and of the period, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Blue-and-White Ware of the Ch'ing Dynasty: Book 1, Hong Kong, 1968, p.58, pl.13. A Qianlong reign-marked example is illustrated in Beauty of Ceramics, vol.3: Blue and White Porcelain, Taipei, 1993, pl.153.

Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART, 9 Nov 2017, starting at 10:30 GMT, London, New Bond Street