A rare finely carved Dingyao 'ducks' bowl, Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127)

Lot 1984. A rare finely carved Dingyao 'ducks' bowl, Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127); 9 3/16 in. (23.4 cm.) diam. Estimate HKD 1,200,000 - HKD 1,800,000. Price realised HKD 2,180,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2010.

With shallow rounded sides rising from a very short foot ring, freely carved in the interior with a pair of ducks swimming amongst reeds and sagittaria, the exterior with characteristic glaze 'tear stains', the unglazed rim bound in metal, box.

Provenance: Sir John Figgess, KBE, CMG
Previously sold at Christie's London, 12 July 2005, lot 74.

Note: This is a classic Ding ware bowl, with all the features of fine Ding wares from the Northern Song period. It is well potted with a fine-textured white body and clear, ivory-toned glaze including the characteristic 'tear stains' on the exterior. The low foot is well cut and bears the finger nail mark of the potter who held the foot while dipping the bowl into the vat of glaze. The decoration of a pair of ducks on a pond with aquatic plants is fluently incised with some of the major lines of the design being emphasised through the use of parallel lines. The decorative theme of a pair of ducks was a very popular one in China, especially in association with weddings. A pair of ducks symbolise fidelity, and if they swim on a lotus pond the message is extended, since one of the Chinese words for lotus is pronounced he, which is a homophone for harmony.

Two Ding bowls decorated with a scene depicting a pair of swimming ducks, and of the same size and similar shape as the current bowl are in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei (see Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Ting Ware White Porcelain, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1987, nos. 44 and 46). A similarly sized Ding bowl with a design of a pair of swimming ducks, formerly in the Eumorfopoulos Collection, is now in the collection of the Percival David Foundation (see M. Medley, Illustrated Catalogue of Ting and Allied Wares, Percival David Foundation, London, 1980, p. 17, no. 33). A Ding ware bowl of similar shape, size and decoration is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago (illustrated in Masterpieces of Chinese Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, 1989, p. 79, no. 67). This bowl, formerly in the collection of Lucy Maud Buckingham, entered the Chicago collection in 1924.

Christie's. The Imperial Sale Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 31 May 2010