Lot 3224. A white jade mariage bowl, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 24 cm., 9 1/2 in. Estimate 4,000,000 — 5,000,000 HKD. Lot Sold 4,820,000 HKD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
supported on four splayed ruyi-head feet, the deep bowl with flattened base rising to rounded sides incurved at the mouth, flanked by a pair of openwork dragon handles, each beast with its arched torso curving into a C-shape suspending a loose ring, its horn, pointed ears and out streched wings reaching back towards the rim, bulging eyes beneath furled brows and jaws opening to reveal a curled bifurcated tongue, the finely polished stone of pale celadon-white enhanced by warm russet patches.
Provenance: Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2nd May 2005, lot 701.
Note: The present bowl is impressive for its large size and finely polished surface which has been left undecorated to highlight the luminosity of the russet-flecked stone. Vessels of this type, often referred to as 'marriage bowls', were popular during the Qing period, and were decorated with auspicious motifs that symbolised the wish for blessings and good wishes upon the owners. The winged dragon is one of the nine traditional representations of the dragon and is symbolic of imperial power. Notably, when viewed from the top the dragon heads resemble butterfly handles, a motif that was commonly employed on marriage bowls due to their symbolism of marital bliss.
A slightly smaller marriage bowl of closely related form and decoration, but also carved to the interior with flowers, was sold in these rooms, 8th April 2010, lot 1869. Compare also marriage bowls of slightly different forms and variations of the winged dragons, such as two illustrated in Zhongguo yuqi quanji, vol. 6, Shijiazhung, 1993, pls 314 and 316; and two sold at Christie's Hong Kong, one from the Dexingshuwu collection, 26th April 2004, lot 1226, and the other, 1st December 2009, lot 2010.
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 08 april 2011