Lot 157. A pair of blue and white 'dragon' double-gourd vases, Qianlong seal marks and period (1736-1795). Height 17.6 and 17.6 cm, 6⅞ and 6⅞ inEstimate: 60,000 - 80,000 GBP. Lot sold 118,750 GBP. Photo Sotheby's

each supported on a slightly flared foot rising to a flattened globular lower body tapering to a narrow waist, surmounted by the upper bulb with tapered neck and flanked by a pair of arched handles, decorated to each face with a central shou roundel between a pair of confronted dragons detailed with long sinuous bodies with elaborate streaming scrolls, the upper bulb centred with a stylised bat medallion, the base inscribed with a six-character seal mark in underglaze blue.

NoteThe elegant double-gourd form and dynamic design of these two vases is filled with auspicious symbolism. On each side, two sinuous dragons frame a stylised shou (longevity) character, below a bat facing upwards and ruyi-shaped handles. Together they symbolise blessings, longevity and fulfilment of all wishes (fushou ruyi).

Vases of this type are held in important museums and private collections worldwide; a vase in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, was included in Illustrated Catalogue of Ch’ing Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum: Ch’ien-lung and Other Wares, vol. II, Tokyo, 1981, pl. 3; another in the Nanjing Museum, is illustrated in The Official Kiln Porcelain of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Shanghai, 2003, pl. 277; a pair in the Huaihaitang collection, was included in the exhibition Ethereal Elegance. Porcelain Vases of the Imperial Qing, Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2007, cat. no. 107; and a further vase was sold these rooms, 7th November 2012, lot 500. 

Vases of this form are also known decorated in other palettes; a blue-glazed vase with a combination of auspicious design elements in gilt, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, was included in the Museum’s Special Exhibition of K’ang-hsi, Yung-cheng an Ch’ien-lung Porcelain Ware from the Ch’ing Dynasty in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1986, cat. no. 78; and a pair of yellow-ground vases with a shou character surrounded by bats, from the collection of Mrs Christian R. Holmes, was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 9th October 2012, lot 3024

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, London, 06 Nov 2019