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AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE GROUP OF NUMBERED JUN BULB BOWLS

Rosemary Scott, Senior International Academic Consultant Asian Art

Unprecedentedly, the current sale includes an exceedingly rare and important group of four numbered Jun ware bulb bowls; each bearing a different numeral: yi one; san three; si four; and wu five. The numbers on this type of Jun ware vessel relate to their size, with ‘one’ being the largest and ‘ten’ being the smallest. Texts of the Qing period such as the Nanyao biji suggest that the numbers relate to pairs, and while this may be somewhat too narrow a definition, matching sets of flower pots and stands do indeed appear to bear the same number. Cases in point can be seen in the collection of Sir Percival David. His collection includes a significant number of Jun wares, among which are a mallow form flowerpot, and a conforming flowerpot stand, both bearing the number qi seven on their bases (see Illustrated Catalogue of Ru, Guan, Jun, Guangdong and Yixing Wares in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, Revised Edition 1999, pp. 52-3, nos. A10 & A 11). The flowerpot fits neatly into the stand. A Jun ware flowerpot and stand of rectangular form with indented corners, from the same collection, bear the number shi ten on their bases, and in this case too the flowerpot fits neatly into the stand (see S. Yorke Hardy, Illustrated Catalogue of Tung, Ju, Kuan, Chün, Kuang-tung & Glazed I-Hsing Wares in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1953, p. 39 and pl. XII, nos. 96 & 97).

All the vessels in the current sale are of the same, well-potted, circular form, with three cloud-shaped feet and so-called ‘drum-nail’ raised bosses around the outside walls. They all have a rich mottled purplish glaze on the exterior with an opalescent bluish glaze on the interior, and the relevant numeral is impressed into the base, which has an uneven khaki-coloured glaze. This particular form has been described by various authors as a narcissus bowl, a bulb bowl, a flowerpot stand or a brush washer. It is possible that such vessels fulfilled any, or all, of these functions during their period of use, but it seems likely, judging from evidence relating to this Jun ware group as a whole, that their original function related to plants. For the sake of convenience, they will be referred to as ‘bulb bowls’ in this essay.

The eponymous site for the normal type of Jun wares, characterised by their strong potting and opalescent blue glazes, is Juntai in Yuxian, Henan province, which was located just inside the gate in the northern part of the town of Yuzhou in 1964 and was excavated in 1974 (see Zhao Qingyun,‘Henan Yuxian Juntai yaozhi de fajue’, Wenwu, no. 6, 1975). Yuxian was a very active ceramic producing area from the Tang to the Ming dynasty, as evidenced by the discovery of more than 100 kilns in the area, producing a range of ceramic wares. However, Jun-type wares were also made at kilns in other parts of Henan, as well as in Hebei and Shanxi provinces. Everyday Jun wares such as bowls, dishes, cup-stands, vases and ewers have been found at these sites and also in tombs and hoards which can be dated to the Jin (1115-1234) and Yuan (1279-1368) periods. These include both monochrome blue wares and those decorated with copper splashes. The dating of these everyday wares is relatively straightforward, and it is thought that production began in the Northern Song period (960-1127), gaining momentum in the Jin dynasty. Although early Jun wares are generally regarded as ‘popular’ rather than ‘imperial’ wares, Shane McCausland has noted what may be a Jun ware ding-shaped censer, used as a jardinière, in the painting dated c. AD 1102, entitled Listening to a Lute, by the Song Emperor Huizong, which is now preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing (see S. McCauland, ‘Connoisseurship’, Song Ceramics - Objects of Admiration, S. Pierson (ed.), London, 2003, p. 18). (fig. 1).

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fig. 1 Listening to a Lute by Song Emperor Huizong, circa AD 1102. Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

A distinct group of Jun wares, known as ‘numbered’ Jun wares have been the subject of much scholarly research in recent years, with their status as imperial wares being strongly argued by a number of scholars. In contrast to the everyday wares, this group, to which the current bulb bowls belong, relate to plant cultivation. The dating of this group has been controversial, since some scholars in China have been inclined to date them to the Song dynasty, while others have suggested a later period of production. To date none of these ‘numbered’ Jun wares have been found in dated hoards or tombs. Unlike the everyday Jun wares, the ‘numbered’ Jun wares have only been found at one kiln site in Yuzhou Prefecture, at Juntai Terrace, where a salvage excavation was undertaken in 1974 (see Zhao Qingyun, ‘Henan Yuxian Juntai yaozhi de fajue’ (The excavation of the Juntai kiln site in Yuxian, Henan), Wenwu, no. 6, 1975). More recent extensive archaeological and scientific research in China was presented at symposia held in 2005 and 2006 – the Yuzhou Symposium on Jun Wares, 2005 (Henan Archaeological Institute, et al., Collection of Papers Presented at the 2005 Yuzhou Symposium on Jun Wares, Zhengzhou, 2007); and the Symposium on Imperial Jun Wares, Shenzhen, 2006. The material from these two symposia was discussed by Li Baoping in ‘Numbered Jun Wares: Controversies and New Kiln Site Discoveries’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 71, 2006-2007, pp.65-77.

Detailed examination of a coin mould found in association with Jun wares, which had previously led scholars to believe that the ‘numbered’ Jun dated to the Northern Song period, revealed that the mould was a fake, while the later Fenghua inscriptions were also shown to be problematic. New archaeological finds also provided new information. In 2004 another salvage excavation of some 3000 square meters was undertaken at Juntai, approximately 300 meters away from the 1974 excavation. ‘Numbered’ Jun wares were found in a pit with some turquoise glazed ceramics, and based on their glazes and forms they were dated to the Yuan dynasty (see Guo Peiyu, ‘Yuzhou Juntai yao kaogu xinfaxian yu chubu yanjiu’ (A preliminary study of the new archaeological discoveries from Juntai kilns), in Henan Archaeological Institute, et al. (ed.), Collection of Papers Presented at the 2005 Yuzhou Symposium on Jun Wares, op. cit., pp. 44-50. Thermoluminescent testing of ‘numbered’ Jun shards, has suggested dates in the Yuan and early Ming dynasties (see Chen Kelun, ‘Juntai yao Beisong junyao chanpin shidai de zai tantao’ (A further discussion of dates for the products of the ‘Northern Song Jun kilns’), Shanghai Bowuguan Jikan, vol. 10, 2005, pp. 168-76; and Lu Minghua, ‘Juntai guanjunci shaozao shidai kaozheng (Investigation into the production dates of Imperial Jun wares from Juntai), in Henan Archaeological Institute, et al. (ed.), Collection of Papers Presented at the 2005 Yuzhou Symposium on Jun Wares, op. cit., pp. 71-85). In addition, at the Shenzhen symposium in 2006 researchers compared certain excavated Jun forms, bearing glazes similar to the finer ‘numbered’ Jun wares, such as square spouted ewers with peach-shaped panels on either side of their flattened bodies (see Li Baoping, op. cit., p. 69, fig. 3), to Jingdezhen imperial wares of the Yongle reign (1403-24) and to precious metal wares of the Xuande reign (1426-35). It seems likely, therefore, that fine ‘numbered’ Jun wares, such as those in the current sale could have been made for the court in the late Yuan-early Ming dynasties - late 14th- early 15th century, and this would account for the relatively high proportion of the extant examples being preserved in the imperial collections.

The high status that such vessels enjoyed as antiques at the Qing imperial court is confirmed by examples preserved in the palace collections, a number of which bear Qing dynasty inscriptions incised through the glaze on the base of the vessel, which specify where in the Qing palaces they were to be deployed. Their use in imperial gardens is significant, since gardens were of considerable importance to the Qing emperors and the Qianlong Emperor has been quoted as saying:

‘If he has time before holding an audience or attending to the affairs of state, an emperor should enjoy strolling in extensive grounds and admiring beautiful vistas. If he has such places, he will be able to cultivate his mind and refine his emotions; otherwise, he may take pleasure in trivial things and that will only sap his energies and willpower.’

Five Jun bulb bowls, of similar shape to the current examples, from the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing have been published (see Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), vol. 32, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1996, pp. 28-33, nos. 24-28), along with further examples with lobed rims (ibid., pp. 34-38, nos. 29-33). Of the three circular bulb bowls with mottled purplish exterior and opalescent blue interior, two bear the numeral ‘one’, while the other bears the numeral ‘two’. One of those bearing the numeral ‘one’ also bears a Qing dynasty location inscription reading: ‘Yingtai’ ( Sea Terrace) ‘Jingqixuan yong ( for use in the Pavilion of Peaceful Repose).

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered one’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, Song dynasty, 27 cm

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered one’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, 27 cm. diam., in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered two’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, Song dynasty, 22

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered two’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, 22.2 cm. diam., in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

A wholly blue-glazed Jun ware bulb bowl of similar shape to the examples in the current sale, but bearing the number ‘ten’, is in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, and has been inscribed ‘Yangxindian’ (Hall of Mental Cultivation) ‘Changchun shuwu yong’ (For use in the Study of Eternal Spring) (illustrated in The Life of Emperor Qian Long, Macau, 2002, no. 77, where it is described as a washer). Another Jun vessel of similar type in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, which bears the number ‘one’, is inscribed ‘Yingtai’ ( Sea Terrace) ‘Hanyuandianyong’ ( for use in the Hall of Embodying Origin) and is illustrated in Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), vol. 32, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1996, p. 32, no. 27). These blue-glazed Jun bulb bowls are examples of a somewhat less refined style, compared to the current examples, and have large and numerous setter marks on the base.

Four more of these heavier, blue-glazed Jun circular bulb bowls are in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei (illustrated in A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum: Chün Ware, Taipei, 1999, pp. 88-9, no. 27; pp. 94-5, no. 30; pp. 102-3, no. 34; and pp. 35-6, no.35). Two, both bearing the numeral ‘one’ also bear Qing location inscriptions– one reads ‘Yingtai’ ( Sea Terrace) ‘Chunyidian yong’ (foruse in the Palace of the Spring Screen), while the other reads ‘Yangxindian’(Hall of Mental Cultivation) ‘Changchun shuwu yong’ (for use in the Study of Eternal Spring). In all, ten of the circular Jun bulb bowls with drum-nail decoration from the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, are illustrated in A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum: Chün Ware, op. cit., pp. 88-107, nos. 27-36 - the four mentioned above, plus six of the more refined type, five of which have mottled purplish glazes on the exterior and opalescent blue glazes on the interior, similar to those in the current sale. These range in size from ‘one’ to ‘eight’. The National Palace Museum also has in its collection a further twelve Jun bulb bowls of various forms, ranging in size from ‘one’ to ‘nine’. Of these, four bear Qing dynasty location inscriptions. A lobed bulb bowl, size ‘four’ (ibid., pp. 118-9, no. 42) is inscribed:‘Chonghuagong’ (Palace of Cherished Glory) ‘Zhilanshi yong (for use in the Mansion of Irises and Orchids). A begonia-shaped bulb bowl, size ‘one’ (ibid., pp. 124-5, no. 45) is inscribed ‘Chonghuagong’(Palace of Cherished Glory) ‘Shufangzhai yong’ (for use in the Lodge of Fresh Fragrance). The Lodge of Fresh Fragrance was a favourite place for imperial leisure activities, where one of the palace theatres was located. Two hexagonal bulb bowls, both size ‘seven’ (ibid., pp.128-131, nos. 47 and 48), bear the same inscriptions ‘Yangxindian’ (Hall of Mental Cultivation) ‘Mingchuang yong’ (for use in the Study of Illumination). The Mingchuang was a study in the south-western part of the Hall of Mental Cultivation, and was used by the Prime Minister during the Yongzheng reign.

‘Numbered two’, 22

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered two’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, 22.5 cm. diam., in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

‘Numbered four’, 20 cm

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered four’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, 20 cm. diam., in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

‘Numbered five’, 20

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered five’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, 20.8 cm. diam., in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

‘Numbered eight’, 16 cm

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered eight’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, 16 cm. diam., in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

Another heavier circular version of a Jun bulb bowl with bluish glaze on both interior and exterior is in the collection of Sir Percival David (inventory number PDF A12) in this case bearing the numeral ‘two’. There are, however, three more Jun bulb bowls of circular form with ‘drum-nail’ bosses in the Percival David collection, which are of the same refined type as the bulb bowls in the current sale and which also share with them the mottled purplish exterior and opalescent blue interior. These are inventory number PDF 35, which bears the numeral ‘five’; PDF A56, which bears number ‘seven’; and PDF 34, which bears number ‘four’. The latter bulb bowl, which was formerly in the American De Forest collection, also bears Qing dynasty inscriptions reading: ‘Yong’ansi’ (Temple of Eternal Peace) and‘Yuexindian yong’ (for use in the Hall of Heart’s Delight). There are two more Jun ware bulb bowls in the collection of Sir Percival David which bear incised inscriptions giving details of the location in which they were used by the Qing emperors. A bracket-lobed bulb bowl, which bears the numeral ‘seven’ (inventory number PDF 37) is inscribed ‘Yangxindian’ (Hall of Mental Cultivation) ‘Sui’anshi yong’ ( for use in the Chamber of Accompanying Peace). The other David Collection Jun bulb bowl with Qing location inscription is inventory number PDF 38, which bears the numeral ‘nine’. This bulb bowl is begonia-shaped and is inscribed Yangxindian’ (Hall of Mental Cultivation) ‘Mingchuang yong’ (for use in the Study of Illumination).

From the inscriptions noted above, it is clear that these Jun ware flower vessels were used in some of the most important buildings and gardens of the Inner Palace of the Forbidden City, as well as other areas that were used by the Qing emperors. It is notable that the majority of the Jun ware bulb bowls, flowerpots and planters preserved in the palace collections and in the Percival David collection, which bear Qing dynasty location inscriptions, name places within the Yangxindian, the Chonghuagong, the Jianfugong or the Yingtai, which were all used by the imperial family as personal residences or places for relaxation. The Yangxindian (Hall of Mental Cultivation) was built during the reign of the Ming dynasty Jiajing Emperor, and was used as a place of repose for the emperors. However, the future Yongzheng Emperor moved into the Yangxindian in order to be close to his father, the Kangxi Emperor, in the Qianqinggong (Palace of Heavenly Purity), when the latter was ill. When he ascended the throne, the Yongzheng Emperor did not move into the Qianqinggong but continued to live in the Yangxindian and subsequent Qing emperors continued this practice. The Chonghuagong (Palace of Cherished Glory) was the residence of the Qianlong emperor before he ascended the imperial throne. It was located in the north-western part of the Forbidden City. After he became emperor Qianlong commissioned extensive renovation of the Chonghuagong, adding facilities such as a stage, where the emperor made opera performances and tea available to court officials as part of the Spring Festival celebrations. The Jianfugong (Palace of Established Happiness), also in the north-western part of the Forbidden City, and was built by the Qianlong Emperor in 1742. It was particularly noted for its gardens, which Qianlong had constructed as a place of relaxation and entertainment for members of the court. The Yingtai (Sea Terrace) is an island in the Nanhai, the most southerly of the artificial lakes which make up the Taiye Lake in the imperial park next to the Forbidden City. The island was constructed in 1421 on the orders of the Ming Yongle Emperor, but was given the name Yingtai by the Qing dynasty Shunzhi Emperor in 1655. In addition to these secular locations, it is clear that some of the Jun ware vessels were also placed at the site of temples used by the imperial family, such as the Yong’ansi’ (Temple of Eternal Peace), which was built with a Tibetan style white pagoda in 1651 on Qionghuadao (Jade flower Island) in Beihai Park, and was renovated on the orders of the Qianlong Emperor in 1743, when it was formally given the name Yong’ansi.

Additional evidence of Qing dynasty imperial appreciation of these garden Jun wares can be seen in the fact that examples of lobed flowerpots and stands or bulb bowls, belonging to the same group of Jun wares as the current vessels, are illustrated in Qing court paintings. There is an album from the Qianlong reign, painted by the court artist Chen Mei (AD 1697-1745), which is comprised of twelve leaves depicting Ladies’ Seasonal Activities of the Twelve Months entitled Strolling in the Moonlight, c. AD 1738, in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing. The leaves of this album depict ladies of the court pursuing various leisure activities within the palaces and gardens in each of the twelve months of the year. One album leaf represents activities of the 9th month, in which ladies are depicted in the palace gardens. It is entitled Enjoying chrysanthemums on the ninth day of the ninth month and is illustrated in The Golden Exile - Pictorial Expressions of the School of Western Missionaries’ Artworks of the Qing Dynasty Court, Museu de Arte de Macau, 2002, no. 45/9 (fig. 2). This particular album leaf depicts graceful palace ladies and their maids admiring Autumn chrysanthemums in one of the palace gardens. In the foreground a lobed Jun ware flowerpot, with mottled purple exterior, is shown carefully placed on an ornamental rocky platform alongside another, rectangular, planter. The Jun flowerpot has been planted with a shumu penjing miniature flowering tree. It may be significant that there is a lobed Jun ware flowerpot, of the same shape as the flowerpot illustrated in the album leaf, preserved in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (illustrated in Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), op. cit., pp. 18-19, no. 15) (fig. 3). In addition to the number qi seven incised into the base under the glaze, the Jun flowerpot from the Beijing Palace Museum bears two later inscriptions incised into its base through the glaze. One reads: Jianfugong (Palace of Established Happiness). As mentioned above, the garden of the Palace of Established Happiness was constructed during the reign of Qianlong as a place of entertainment for members of the court, such as the ladies in the painting and was famous for its fine buildings and exquisite layout. The other inscription reads:Zhu shi jia shan yong ‘for use in the bamboo and stone artificial rockery’, presumably within that garden. It is possible therefore that the garden and rockery in Chen Mei’s album leaf was intended to represent the garden of the Palace of Established Happiness, and that the Jun ware flowerpot in the Palace Museum is in fact the one shown in the painting. This Jun ware flower pot appears to belong to the same group of Jun wares as the bulb bowls in the current sale – well-potted with a fine mottled purplish-glaze on the exterior and an opalescent blue glaze on the interior.

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fig. 2 Album leaf of ‘Enjoying chrysanthemums on the ninth day of the ninth month’ from Strolling in the Moonlight by Chen Mei, circa AD 1738. Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing

A ‘numbered 7’ Jun flower pot

fig. 3 A ‘numbered 7’ Jun flower pot. Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

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fig. 4 Incised inscriptions on the base of the Jun flower pot shown in fig. 3.

One of the famous paintings of Twelve Beauties at Leisure, believed to have been painted for the Yongzheng emperor, when he was Prince Yinzhen, during the reign of his father the Kangxi emperor, may depict an early Jun ware flowerpot and stand, or may depict a Qing dynasty set made in imitation of the earlier vessels. The painting shows an elegantly attired lady seated on a day bed in front of a calligraphic scroll admiring her image in an antique bronze mirror. On the windowsill to her right is a lobed Juntype flowerpot and stand (illustrated in China - The Three Emperors 1662-1795, E.S. Rawski and J. Rawson (eds.), Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005, p. 259, no. 173, lower right). The flowerpot is planted with narcissi. This Jun ware flowerpot and stand may be an antique - collected by one of the Qing emperors, or passed down within the imperial collections. However, it may be that the vessels in the painting are Qing dynasty pieces inspired by earlier Jun wares. Since Jun wares were so highly esteemed by the Qing emperors, the imperial kilns were instructed to imitate their glazes. Jun-type wares were made in the reigns of the Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors, including flowerpots and bulb bowls, providing interesting comparisons with the stoneware originals that inspired them. So determined was the Yongzheng Emperor to have the imperial kilns make Jun-type glazes that in 1729 that Tang Ying ( 1682-1756, then Vice Director of the Imperial kilns) felt it necessary to send his potter friend Wu Lin (1691-1772) to Junzhou in Henan to study Jun ware glazes. A Jun-type Yongzheng flowerpot and stand in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei (illustrated in Harmony and Integrity – The Yongzheng Emperor and His Times, Taipei, 2009, pp. 228-9, no. II-54 and 55) (fig. 5) more strongly resemble the rather unusual colouration of the flowerpot and stand in the painting than do the earlier Jun wares.

A Jun-type bulb bowl and stand, Yongzheng period

fig. 5 A Jun-type bulb bowl and stand, Yongzheng period. Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei.

It seems quite possible that the high-quality bulb bowls in the current sale belong to a group of Jun wares made for the early Ming court. They were certainly greatly admired by the 18th century emperors of the Qing dynasty, who displayed them in palace buildings and gardens, and included them in court paintings. The current bulb bowls represent the highest quality of the‘numbered’ Jun vessels, well-made and with exquisitely mottled purplish glaze on the exterior and opalescent blue glazed interiors. Never before have four such vessels come onto the market at the same time – providing a unique opportunity to study of this fascinating group.

A fine and extremely rare ‘Numbered one’ Jun tripod bulb bowl, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century

A FINE AND EXTREMELY RARE ‘NUMBERED ONE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

A FINE AND EXTREMELY RARE ‘NUMBERED ONE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

A FINE AND EXTREMELY RARE ‘NUMBERED ONE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

 Aucune description de photo disponible.

Lot 2751. A fine and extremely rare ‘Numbered one’ Jun tripod bulb bowl, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century; 9 7/8 in. (25.1 cm.) diam. Estimate HKD 15,000,000 - HKD 18,000,000 (USD 1,919,818 - USD 2,303,782). Unsold. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019.

The sturdily potted bowl has a band of twenty-two ‘nail-head’ bosses applied between bow-string borders, and a further eighteen bosses above the three ruyi-form feet. The bowl is covered with a thick glaze, the interior of pale blue and lavender tone and the exterior of mottled purple that thins to brownish-olive on the raised areas. The base has a thin brownish-olive glaze and a ring of spur marks, and is incised with the character yi (one), double Japanese wood boxes.

ProvenanceSold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1 May 1995, lot 637
Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 7 May 2002, lot 521.

LiteratureSotheby’s Thirty Years in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2003, p. 123, no. 99
Christie’s 20 Years in Hong Kong 1986-2006 – Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Highlights, Hong Kong, 2006, p. 35

NoteThe Qing court has preserved several similar Jun bulb bowls incised with the numeral yi (one), four examples in the Palace Museums, Beijing, are illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum -Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), Hong Kong, 1996, one in purple, no. 24 (24.3 cm.), and no. 25 (23.5 cm.), the latter incised with two additional inscriptions recording its use in Jingxixuan in Yingtai, one in moon-white, no. 27 (26.5 cm.) with inscriptions recording its use in Hanyuandian in Yingtai, and one in blue, no. 28 (25.2 cm.) with inscriptions recording its use in the Changchun shuwu in the Hall of Mental Cultivation.

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered one’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, Song dynasty, 24

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered one’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, 24.3 cm. diam., in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered one’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, Song dynasty, in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing

Purple-glazed ‘Numbered one’ Jun bulb bowl with drum-nail design, 23.5 cm. diam., with inscriptions reading: ‘Yingtai’ and ‘Jingqixuan yong, in the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

Four in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, are illustrated in Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum: Chün Ware, Taipei, 1999, no. 27 (25.4 cm.) in moonwhite with inscriptions recording its use in Xiangchendian in Yingtai, no. 28 in lavender-blue (25.5 cm.), no. 29 in grape-purple (27 cm.), and no. 30 in moon-white (25.6 cm.) with inscriptions recording its use in the Changchun shuwu in the Hall of Mental Cultivation. Further similar examples incised with the numeral yi include a purple one in the Shanghai Museum (24.3 cm.), illustrated in Shanghai bowuguan cangci xuanji, Shanghai, 1979, no. 46; three gifted by Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane to the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, see object numbers: 1942.185.42 (24.1 cm.), 1942.185.43 (24.3 cm.), and 1942.185.44 (24.4 cm.); two from Eumorfopoulos Collection, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, one in moon-white (27.6 cm.) accession number: C. 172-1938, the other with mottled purplish-blue on the exterior and blue on the interior (24 cm.) accession number: C105- 1935.

AN EXTREMELY RARE ‘NUMBERED THREE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

AN EXTREMELY RARE ‘NUMBERED THREE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

AN EXTREMELY RARE ‘NUMBERED THREE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

AN EXTREMELY RARE ‘NUMBERED THREE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

Aucune description de photo disponible.

Lot 2752. An extremely rare ‘Numbered three’ Jun tripod bulb bowl, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century; 9 in. (22.8 cm.) diam. Estimate HKD 8,000,000 - HKD 10,000,000 (USD 1,023,903 - USD 1,279,878). Unsold. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019.

The sturdily potted bowl has a band of twenty ‘nail-head’ bosses applied between bow-string borders, and a further seventeen bosses above the three ruyi-form feet. The bowl is covered with a thick glaze, the interior of pale blue and lavender tone and the exterior of mottled magenta that thins to brownish-olive on the raised areas. The base has a thin olive glaze and a ring of spur marks, and is incised with the character san (three), double Japanese wood boxes.

Provenance: Matsushige Hiroda (1897-1973)
Manno Art Museum
An important private collection, acquired circa 2000.

LiteratureSelected Masterpieces of the Manno Collection, Osaka, 1988, no. 99

Note: Jun bulb bowls of this form incised with the numeral san (three) are considerably fewer than other numerals. Compare with three ‘numbered three’ Jun bulb bowls of this form, one in purple (23 cm.), sold at Sotheby’s London, 9 November 2005, lot 277; three in lavender-blue, one sold at Sotheby’s New York, 23 March 2011, lot 514 (21 cm.), the second from the Linyushanren collection, sold at Christie’s New York, 22 March 2019, lot 1722 (21.3 cm.).

The present bulb is accompanied by double Japanese wood boxes. The underside of the cover of the inner box is inscribed with a signature, Fukkosai, followed by an eponymous seal. Fukkosai was the pseudonym of Matsushige Hiroda (1897-1973). Born in the town of Yatsuo (presentday Toyama city), Toyama prefecture, Hirota entered the world of art dealing at the young age of twelve, and was one of the two co-founders of the antique store Kochukyo. In Nihonbashi, Tokyo. In 1947, 1967, and 1972, he donated a total of 496 items to the Tokyo National Museum.

A RARE ‘NUMBERED FOUR’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

A RARE ‘NUMBERED FOUR’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

A RARE ‘NUMBERED FOUR’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

A RARE ‘NUMBERED FOUR’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL 

Aucune description de photo disponible.

Lot 2753. rare ‘Numbered four’ Jun tripod bulb bowl, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century; 7 ¾ in. (19.8 cm.). diamEstimate HKD 12,000,000 - HKD 15,000,000 (USD 1,535,854 - USD 1,919,818)Price realised HKD 14,525,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019.

 The sturdily potted bowl has a band of eighteen ‘nail-head’ bosses applied between bow-string borders, and a further fifteen bosses above the three ruyi -form feet. The bowl is covered with a thick glaze, the interior of milky pale blue and the exterior of mottled reddish-purple and blue that thins to olive on the raised areas. The base has a thin olive glaze and a ring of spur marks, and is incised with the character si (four), stand, double Japanese wood boxes.

ProvenanceProperty from an Asian family collection
Sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 24-25 October 1993, lot 704
Sold at Sotheby’s New York, 18 March 2008, lot 97.

Note: Similar examples inscribed with the numeral si (four) are included in important public and private collections. Purple examples include one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum: Chün Ware, Taipei, 1999, no. 32 (20 cm.); one in the Percival David Collection now on loan to the British Museum, London, illustrated by Hobson, A Catalogue of Chinese Pottery and Porcelain in the collection of Sir Percival David Collection, London, 1934, Pl. LXIII (lower) (21.9 cm.) with inscriptions recording its use at the Yuexin Hall of Yongan Temple; one in the Tokyo National Museum, illustrated by Mary Tregear, Song Ceramics, London, 1982, no. 171 (21.7 cm.); one gifted by Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane to the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, object number: 1942.185.50 (20 cm.); one from the Robert Chang Collection, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28 November 2006, lot 1304 (19.7 cm.); and a fourth sold at Christie’s New York, 19 March 2009, lot 579 (22.2 cm.). For other similar examples incised with the numeral si in other colours, compare a moon-white example sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 30 April 1996, lot 306 (19.7 cm.); and two blue examples, one sold at Sotheby’s New York, 18 March 2008, lot 100 (20cm.), the other sold at Sotheby’s London, 11 November 2015, lot 81 (21.6cm.).

A FINE AND RARE ‘NUMBERED FIVE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

A FINE AND RARE ‘NUMBERED FIVE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

 A FINE AND RARE ‘NUMBERED FIVE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

A FINE AND RARE ‘NUMBERED FIVE’ JUN TRIPOD BULB BOWL

Aucune description de photo disponible.

Lot 2754. A fine and rare ‘Numbered five’ Jun tripod bulb bowl, Yuan-Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century; 8 ¼ in. (21 cm.) diam. Estimate HKD 12,000,000 - HKD 15,000,000 (USD 1,535,854 - USD 1,919,818). Unsold. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019.

Provenance North-American Chinese family collection formed during the late Qing dynasty
Sold at Christie’s New York, 15 September 2009, lot 341.

Note: Jun bulb bowls incised with the numeral wu (five) are in public and private collections worldwide. Compare with one covered in purple on both the exterior and interior in National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Chun Ware, Taipei, 1999, no. 33 (20.8 cm.); two similar to the present bowl with purple on the outside and blue on the inside, one in the Percival David Collection now on loan to the British Museum, London, illustrated by Hobson, Pl. LAXIII (upper) (19 cm.), the other from the Linyushanren collection, sold at Christie’s New York, 22 March 2018, lot 542 (20.9 cm.). Compare also with two examples in moon-white in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, see ibid., Taipei, 1999, pp. 102-105, nos. 34 (23.5 cm.) and 35 (23.3 cm.)

Christie's. Four Masterpieces of Jun Ware, Hong Kong, 29 May 2019