A rare large 'Jian' 'Hare's fur' bowl, Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279)

A rare large 'Jian' 'Hare's fur' bowl, Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279)

Lot 16. A rare large 'Jian' 'Hare's fur' bowl, Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279); 17.5 cm, 6 7/8  in. Estimate £80,000 - £120,000. Lot Sold 106,250 GBP (137,286 USD). Courtesy Sotheby's.

the conical sides rising from a short foot to a flared rim, covered inside and out with a lustrous black glaze finely streaked with russet 'hare's fur' markings thinning to russet at the rim and pooling in a line and in thick droplets above the foot revealing the brown body.

Property from the Rui Xiu Lou Collection.

Provenance: Christie's New York, 21st March 2002, lot 146.
Collection of Francisco Capelo.
Sotheby's London, 12th May 2010, lot 148.

Literature: Francisco Capelo et. al.Forms of Pleasure. Chinese Ceramics from Burial to Daily Life, London, 2009, pl. 49.

Note: This large bowl is remarkable for its rich black glaze suffused with prominent streaks of fine russet lines. Thick drops of glaze pooling above the foot only serve show off its its thickness. The striking black glazes of the Jianyang kilns derive their uniqueness from the different effects created when air bubbles in the glaze burst leaving distinctive patterns of fine striations or spots, which have traditionally been compared to hare’s fur and oil spots. Vessels were first dipped in the glaze mix, and after a period of drying the lip was immersed in an iron-rich slip, which during firing run downwards merging with the glaze and forming the characteristic streaks. Through the use of a small clay cushion, on which the bowls stood within the saggar during the firing, the direction of the pooling and the position where the glaze droplets formed could be predetermined.

Among the bowls made in the Jianyang kilns in present-day Fujian province, bowls of this dramatic shape and generous proportions are rare. Known as pie, this conical form with lipped rim is discussed by Robert D. Mowry in the catalogue to the exhibition Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 1995, p. 207, where he notes that this shape can be traced to the Tang dynasty (618-907) and was more suited to drinking tea prepared with fruits and spices. Unlike the more commonly known yankou wan, or narrow-mouthed bowls, pie bowls were probably not used for drinking the very popular whipped tea from Fujian, and were therefore made in smaller numbers. During the excavation at Luhuaping in Jianyang, Fujian, only three large pie bowls were recovered, against a total of 980 tea bowls, ibid., p. 217.

A bowl of similar form and proportions in the Tokyo National Museum, is illustrated in Fujiō Kōyama, Tōji taikei: Temmoku[Outlines of ceramics: Temmoku], vol. 38, Tokyo, 1974, pls 99 and 100; another example also in the Tokyo National Museum, is published in Sekai tōji zenshū/ Ceramic Art of the World, vol. 12, Tokyo, 1977, fig. 116; a third from the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, was included in Robert D. Mowry, op. cit., cat. no. 80, together with a slightly less flared example from the collection of Mrs Myron S. Falk, Jr, and Mme Ramet, cat. no. 81, also sold at Christie’s New York, 20th September 2001, lot 91.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, London, 15 May 2019, 10:30 AM