Lot 3407. A celadon and copper-red 'wufubowl, Yongzheng mark and period (1723-1735)D 15.5cm. Sold for HKD 780,000 (Estimate HKD 300,000 - 500,000)© Poly Auction Hong Kong Limited 2022

The bowl has an open mouth and a recessed belly with a flat footrim. The entire body is glazed with a wintergreen glaze, and the exterior is decorated with five flying red bats in varying poses. The bowl is of firm white bone, with a warm, jade-like glaze, and the red glaze is of a bright red colour with a distinctive texture, which is further accentuated by the holly ground.

The bowl is a symbol of good fortune, combining the delicate elegance of the holly glaze with the beauty and brilliance of the red glaze, and is a masterful combination of colours. The footrim is rounded and inscribed in regular script, 'Made in the Yongzheng era of the Qing dynasty', in six characters. 

Provenance:  1. Collection of Ralph M. Chait Galleries, New York
2. Collection of Sir Edward Nguyen Nam (1928-2009), London, acquired on 6 April 1970 from the Water and Turquoise Hill House, London
3. Christie's, New York, 19 September 2006, no. 401.

Publication: O. du Sartel, La porcelain de Chine / [The O. du Sartel Collection of Chinese Porcelain], Paris, 1881, pp. 209-210, 308, plate XXXII, no. 157.

Note: This is a classic example of the Yongzheng official kiln style, the five-fortunes motif in the imperial kiln variety recorded in Tang Ying's 'Tao Cheng Ji Shi' in the thirteenth year of the Yongzheng reign as 'an imitation of the Xuan kiln treasure firing, with three fish, three fruits, three chi, and four types of five-fortunes'. As 'bat' is harmonious with 'fortune', the five bats signify 'five blessings'. The Five Blessings, as described in the book Hong Fan, are: 'One is longevity; the other is wealth; the third is peace and tranquillity; the fourth is the cultivation of virtue; and the fifth is a long life and a good end'. The five bats depicted in this bowl are of this meaning.

There are two varieties of this bowl, one with a white glazed ground decorated with red glazed bats on the exterior and interior, and one with a wintergreen glazed ground decorated with five bats on the exterior, of which the present example is an example. Similar bowls with the five bat motifs in winter-green glaze can be found in The Hong Kong Museum of Art Collection of Qing Dynasty Ceramics, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1984, p. 95; and Chinese Ceramics in the Baur Collection, John Ayers, Geneva, 1974, vol. 4, fig. A532, both of which provide important references for the present lot.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version).

Poly Auction Hong Kong Limited. Palatial Splendour: Imperial Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 2 Dec 2021