A rare russet-splashed dark brown-glazed truncated vase (tulu ping), Northern Song dynasty (960-1127)


Lot 517A rare russet-splashed dark brown-glazed truncated vase (tulu ping), Northern Song dynasty (960-1127); height 5 7/8 in., 15 cm. Estimate 100,000 — 150,000 USDLot sold 122,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

sturdily potted, the body of compressed form tapering to a flat base, with rounded shoulders surmounted by a short neck flaring to a flat everted rim, applied overall with a lustrous dark-brown glaze continuing onto the interior of the neck, liberally splashed with russet-brown and falling in a neat line just above the base exposing the unglazed gray ware, the unglazed base with hastily applied streaks of blackish-brown glaze.

Provenance: Collection of Johannes Hellner, Stockholm.
Christie's New York, 20th March 2001, lot 202.

Literature: Bo Gyllensvard, Oriental Ceramics. The World's Great Collections, Tokyo, 1982, vol. 8, pl. 159.

Note: The russet-colored spontaneous splashes applied over the lustrous dark brown glaze must have evolved naturally from the experimental nature of competing Song dynasty kilns which produced black and brown-glazed wares for the thriving domestic and export tea ware market. On the present vase, the applied matte, iron-red glaze contrasts dramatically with the brilliant dark brown glaze beneath. The use of this glaze technique is particularly effective on this truncated form of vase, as the thin, viscous glaze and splashes condense around the small, flat mouth rim, gathering lightly around the shoulders, gradually elongating as the glaze pulls down the sides. As no two 'splashes' can be the same, the random, serendipitous character of this decorative technique must have been a large part of its appeal to the Song literati.

Vases of this form and decoration are rare.  Compare a closely related example with a shorter neck, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. III (ii), 2006, no. 1510. A similar example, although of smaller dimension and more vigorously applied splashes, is illustrated in Sekei toji zenshu, Tokyo, 1977, vol. 12, p. 244, pl. 246.

Sotheby's. Harmony of Form, Serenity of Color: A Private Collection of 'Song' Ceramics, New York, 23 march 2011