An impressive 'Xing' flask, Liao-Northern Song dynasty

Lot 559. An impressive 'Xing' flask, Liao-Northern Song dynasty (907-1127); height 9 in., 22.8 cmEstimate 80,000 — 120,000 USD. Lot sold 98,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.

boldly potted after a leather prototype, the globular body with sumptuously rounded sides rising from the flattened base to the tapered top, applied on each side with a deep U-shaped flange suggesting seams, with a further vertical flange to the back of the arched handle, repeated below the short upright spout, covered overall in a rich white glaze pooling in the recesses to a pale green, the unglazed foot revealing the white body.

The dating of this lot is consistent with the results of Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test no. P206a77.

Provenance: Sotheby's New York, 18th September 2007, lot 221.

Note: The 'Xing' kilns in Lincheng and Neiqiu counties of Hebei province were probably the most successful producers of white wares in terms of the material used, potting, glazing and firing of pieces during the Tang dynasty. 'Xing' wares were likened to silver by the contemporary elite. According to Regina Krahl, the quality of wares produced at the 'Xing' kilns increased substantially from the mid-Tang period onward, with the body becoming more porcellaneous and the glaze achieving a very smooth quality with a distinct blue tinge. See Regina Krahl, 'Bright as Silver, White as Snow  - White Wares of North and South China', in Bright as Silver. White as Snow. Chinese White Ceramics from Late Tang to Yuan Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1998, pp. 15-24.

A 'Xing' flask of the same shape but of larger size, was excavated from a tomb of Liao dynasty date in Jianping County, Liaoning province, published in Gakuji Hasebe (ed.), Chinese Ceramicsvol. 5, Yutaka Mino, White Porcelain, Tokyo, 1998, pp. 113-114, fig. 62; a flask of identical form and size is also in the collection of the Idemitsu Museum, Tokyo, illustrated ibid., cat. no. 31. 

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