Lot 3102. A blue and white three-ram 'sanyang kaitai' bowl, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722); 15.8 cm., 6 1/2 in. Estimate 300,000 — 500,000 HKD. Lot Sold 500,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's
well potted of inverted bell shape with steep sides gently rising to a flared rim, painted on the exterior in imitation of the Jiajing original with a scene of three rams in a setting of willow, pine and bamboo, the interior with a central medallion of a qilin, within a cell diaper band around the rim, the base inscribed with a six-character apocryphal Jiajing mark.
Provenance: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 19th November 1986, lot 218.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 16th May 1989, lot 238.
Note: Kangxi bowls decorated with the 'Three Rams' design are rare, although three were sold at Christie's London, one on 16th December 1981, lot 43, and a pair on 8th December 1975, lot 141. See a Jiajing prototype of the bowl, with a reign mark and of the period, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in the National Palace Museum Quarterly, vol. II, no. 3, 1968, pp. 29-45, pl. XII, another in the Baur Collection, Geneva, published in John Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in the Baur Collection, vol. 1, Geneva, 1999, pl. 74; and a third example in the Shanghai Museum, published in Zhongguo taoci quanji, vol. 12, Shanghai, 2000, pl. 157. A pair of Jiajing bowls, from the J.M. Hu collection, was sold twice in these rooms, 4th June 1985, lot 15, and 9th October 2007, lot 1559.
The 'Three Rams' (sanyang) design represents a change of fortune with the arrival of spring and the New Year. The three rams are often shown together with the rising sun (taiyang) to form the rebus for 'three yang bring prosperity'. The Yijing (Book of Changes) first mentions the phrase sanyang in reference to the three male lines, tai, that symbolise heaven. The tai is positioned under three female lines, kun, that represent earth; hence the phrase sanyang kaitai, which means 'the New Year brings renewal and a change of fortune'.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 08 april 2011