A pale bluish-white-glazed 'shufu' bowl, Yuan dynasty (1279-1368)





Lot 1037. A pale bluish-white-glazed 'shufu' bowl, Yuan dynasty (1279-1368); 4 1⁄2 in. (11.5 cm.) long, cloth boxEstimate USD 8,000 – USD 12,000Price realised USD 35,280. © Christie's 2022

The bowl with deep, slightly flared sides is decorated in the center of the interior with lotus scroll, below further lotus scroll incorporating the characters 'shu' and 'fu' in the well. The bowl is covered overall with a pale bluish-white glaze.

Provenance: The J. M. Hu (1911-1995), Zande Lou Collection.

Literature: Helen D. Ling and Edward T. Chow, Collection of Chinese Ceramics from the Pavilion of Ephemeral Attainment, vol. I, Hong Kong, 1950, no. 11.

NoteCao Zhao, the distinguished antiquarian and collector from the late Yuan to early Ming period, wrote in his ground-breaking publication Ge gu yao lun (Essential Criteria of Antiquities), “…[among] the wares fired with low-relief decorations in the Yuan dynasty, the ones bearing ‘Shufu’ characters rank the highest.” The term Shufu usually refers to a type of glaze, luanbai (egg white) which is slightly more opaque than that of a qingbai glaze and is silky in texture, rather than glassy. The term derives from the characters shu and fu executed in low relief under the glaze found on some wares with this glaze, such as the present bowl. It is believed that wares with this mark were intended for use by a Yuan dynasty government department, the Shumiyuan, which is equated with a Privy Council.

Compare the similarly decorated Shufu bowl of this shape, also dated Yuan dynasty, illustrated in Porcelain Collected by Anhui Province Museum, Beijing, 2002, p. 113, pl. 95. See, also, another Shufu bowl of similar shape and size but with different floral scroll decoration, sold at Christie’s New York, 14-15 September 2017, lot 1174.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 25 march 2022