Lot 305. A fine and rare blue and white censer, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period (1662-1722). Diameter 7 in., 17.8 cm. Estimate: US$20,000 - US$30,000. Lot Sold 77,500 US$. Courtesy Sotheby's.
of bombé form supported on a gently splayed, channeled foot, finely painted with two rectangular panels, one a Daoist scene enclosing the Eight Immortals each holding an identifying attribute, gathering to pay homage to Shoulao sitting beneath a craggy pine tree flanked by a recumbent deer and a standing attendant, the other panel depicting three Luohan, one holding a leaf seated on an elephant, another with a pearl in the palm of one hand resting on a lion, and the third with arms folded seated atop a recumbent deer, the panels divided by poetic couplets, coll. no. 354.
Provenance: Marchant, London, 2002.
Note: Unlike other forms relating religious subject matter with a focus on one doctrine, the present censer is unusual with its two panels of decoration, one referencing Buddhism, the other Daoism. Although neither tradition was exclusive and often overlapped in the course of daily life, painted references rarely depict the two faiths simultaneously. However, their coexistence, along with a third popular doctrine of Confucianism, was long understood and appreciated as the three ideological pillars of Chinese spiritual practice.
The Daoist inscription may be translated as 'Expanding the boundary of longevity of the South Palace, Drinking with the precious Cup of Red Cloud at the East Sea'; the Buddhist couplet is from the poem Su Longxingsi (A Night at the Longxing Temple) by the Tang dynasty poet Qi Wuqian and reads, 'The bright sun conveys the pureness of the [Buddhist] heart, The green lotus expresses the subtleness of Buddhism'.