A blue, amber and straw-glazed pottery 'phoenix-head' ewer, Tang dynasty (618-907) 

Lot 1312. A blue, amber and straw-glazed pottery 'phoenix-head' ewer, Tang dynasty (618-907); 13¾ in. (35 cm.) high. Estimate USD 15,000 - USD 18,000. Price realised USD 62,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2011

The pear-shaped body raised on a tall spreading foot with flat base, molded in relief on one side with a foliate-bordered oval panel centered by an equestrian archer, the panel on the reverse with a triumphant phoenix standing on a lotus, all reserved on a dark blue ground, the neck surmounted by a phoenix head clasping a pearl in the beak below the lenticular opening in the top of the head, the C-shaped handle with foliate terminals, wood stand.

ProvenanceAcquired in England prior to 1996.
Greenwald Collection no. 14

LiteratureGerald M. Greenwald, The Greenwald Collection, Two Thousand Years of Chinese Ceramics, 1996, no. 14

Note: The design of these vessels was derived from Sassanian metal flasks which came into China with merchants from Iran. Numerous ewers resembling the present lot have been published, including one excavated from Sanqiao, Xi'an, in 1959, and included in the exhibition catalogue, Treasures from Chang'an: Capital of the Silk Road, Hong Kong, 15 October 1993 - 2 January 1994, no. 30; and another in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, illustrated by S. Valenstein, The Herzman Collection of Chinese Ceramics, Hong Kong, 1992, no. 6, previously included in the exhibition, Foreigners in Ancient Chinese Art, China Institute, New York, 27 March - 25 April 1969, no. 59, where E. Schloss also includes an example of a Sassanian silver ewer of similar shape.

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