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Lot 1678. A rare and unusual large blue and white 'alms' bowl, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 9¾ in. (24.8 cm.) diamEstimate USD 40,000 - USD 60,000. Price realised USD 134,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2011

Of deep, tapered form, painted around the exterior with a bold lotus meander beneath borders of ruyi heads and classic scroll at the rim.

Provenance: Dragon House, San Francisco

Note: The alms bowl is a symbol of the Buddhist monk, and by Buddhist law is the only item a monk is allowed to possess. The Qianlong emperor was a devout Buddhist, and numerous Buddhist implements and artworks were created under his direction. Many examples of alms bowls made during his reign in jade, cloisonné enamel and lacquer are evident, although alms bowls made of porcelain are relatively rare, and it is possible that the present bowl was made as a gift for a high-ranking monk.

Another blue and white-decorated porcelain alms bowl, dated to the Qianlong period, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red (III), Hong Kong, 2000, p. 156, no. 142, where it is noted that during the third year of Qianlong's reign, as recorded in the Qianlong Jishidang (Records of Qianlong), that the Imperial kilns received an order to create an underglaze blue and white alms bowl in the Xuande style, which is believed to be the bowl retained by the Palace Museum. 

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Part I and Part II Including Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, New York, 24 March 2011