A very rare large 'numbered' Junyao tripod narcissus bowl, Northern Song dynasty (960-1127)

Lot 1501A very rare large 'numbered' Junyao tripod narcissus bowl, Northern Song dynasty (960-1127); 10 1/8 in. (25.7 cm.) diamEstimate HKD 1,200,000 - HKD 1,800,000. Price realised HKD 1,440,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2006

Of unusually large size, the strongly potted shallow bowl is raised on three ruyi feet, decorated below the lipped rim and around the base with twenty-one and eighteen drum-nail bosses respectively, all covered in a thick glaze, predominantly purplish-blue in tone on the exterior, thinning on the raised details, and a rich sky-blue on the interior with characteristic 'worm-trails', the base incised with the character yi (one) and with a ring of spur marks, 18th century zitan stand, box

Note: Previously sold in these Rooms, 29 April 2002, lot 516.

Song dynasty junyao narcissus bowls made for the Imperial palace were typically covered on the base with a brown wash and were almost always incised with a numeral ranging from 1 to 10, which is often thought to refer to its size - the smaller the number, the larger its size. As such, the present lot and its counterparts numbered 'one' would be the largest in size among the group of bulb bowls.

Cf. other junyao bowls incised with the numeral 'one' and of similar size: four examples included in the exhibition A Panorama of Ceramics in the Collection of the National Palace Museum: Chun Ware, National Palace Museum, Taiwan, 1999, Catalogue nos. 27-30; one sold in these Rooms, 1 May 1995, lot 637; one previously from the Eumorfopoulos Collection, sold in our London Rooms, 15 June 1998, lot 86; and another sold in these Rooms, 31 October 2000, lot 852.

Several other bowls of this shape and comparable size have been published. The examples in the Palace Museum, Beijing, are illustrated in Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1996, pls. 24-28. The examples in the Avery Brundage Collection in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and in the Tokyo National Museum are illustrated by M. Tregear, Song Ceramics, London, 1982, pls. 147 and 171 respectively. Three similar bowls are in London collections: one in the Percival David Foundation is illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, Kodansha Series, Tokyo, 1982, vol. 6, no. 51; a second is illustrated by J. Ayers, Far Eastern Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1980, no. 103; and the third is in the British Museum, illustrated by R. L. Hobson, Handbook of Pottery and Porcelain of the Far East, London, 1948, pl. VIII, fig. 41.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, Hong Kong28 November 2006