A rare and unusual sancai-glazed pottery 'Kalavinka' ewer, Liao dynasty, 10th-early 11th century

Lot 1281. A rare and unusual sancai-glazed pottery 'Kalavinka' ewer, Liao dynasty, 10th-early 11th century; 6 ½ in. (16.5 cm.) highEstimate USD 15,000 - USD 25,000. Price realised USD 15,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2018

The small ewer is in the shape of a mythical being that has the head and forebody of a woman that continues into the body of a plump bird. A small spout is held between the hands and a funnel for filling the vessel rises from the back of the neck. The body is covered in green glaze with some amber highlights and the hair and brows are glazed black.

ProvenanceMu Wen Tang Collection; Sotheby's London, 12 November 2003, lot 84. 
Andrew Kahane Ltd., New York, 20 November 2003.
Peter Scheinman (1932-2017) Collection, New York.

LiteratureHong Kong Museum of Art, Min Chiu Society Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition, Hong Kong, 1990, no. 103.
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Song Ceramics from the Kwan Collection, Hong Kong, 1994, no. 182.

ExhibitedHong Kong, Min Chiu Society Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 30 November 1990 to 10 February 1991.
Hong Kong, Song Ceramics from the Kwan Collection, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 22 July to 11 September 1994.

NoteJames Spencer in Buddhist Images in Gilt Metal, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1993, p. 80, identifies the kalavinka as a particular species of bird from the Himalayan region with a beautiful singing voice. It is thought that its voice symbolizes the spread of Buddhist teaching. A related green and amber-glazed ‘kalavinka’ building ornament was excavated in 1987 at the Guantai kilns in Cizhou, and is illustrated in Complete Collection of Ceramics Art Unearthed in China – 3 – Hebei, Beijing, 2008, p. 178, no. 178.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 13 - 14 September