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The Personal Collection of the late Sir Joseph Hotung. Lot 25. A rare black lacquer 'chrysanthemum' dish, Song dynasty (960-1279); 17.5 cmLot sold: 352,800 HKD (Estimate: 200,000 - 300,000 HKD)© Sotheby's 2022

with sides delicately fashioned with narrow fluted lobes resembling the petals of a chrysanthemum bloom, all supported on a countersunk base, lustrously lacquered overall in black, wood stand and Japanese wood box.

ProvenanceChristie's Hong Kong, 30th April 2001, lot 622.

NoteThe Song dynasty brought unprecedented changes in the distribution of wealth and resources, birthing a renewed discovery of the beauty of nature. Celebrating ideals of classical beauty, this fresh aesthetic called for an understated elegance and sense of perfection, marking the rise of lacquerware.

The Song rule aimed to revive romanticised concepts of antiquity based on Confucian Han ideals, while also trying to establish an identity that deviated from that of the Tang. To achieve this, the Song scholar-elite promoted commercial liberalism which granted much more freedom to the activities of merchants, brokers, and landowners. This newly-formed wealthy upper-class began developing exquisite tastes in lacquerware; silver had become the Song currency of payment, hence less available, and goldware was restricted to the court.

The present lacquer dish evokes the understated blooms of chrysanthemums. According to the Song belief, this flower spread a delicate fragrance symbolising the subtle virtue of a gentleman. Hence, this design was a very popular one among both the ruling class and the scholar gentry. These pieces were made with cores of wood in the laborious quandie method, or with a lacquer-stiffened textile core. Such methods allowed craftsmen to create complex lobed shapes and gave the wares a weightless quality, as demonstrated by this object. With its delicate fluted pedals, the sheen of the reddish-brown lacquer creates a harmonious sense of rhythm. See a similar larger example sold in these rooms, 2nd October 2018, lot 3116.

Lacquer works in Song Dynasty are restrained, elegant and pure and perfect, reflecting the timeless classic beauty of time and space. The new aesthetics represented by such utensils were created when the Song Dynasty was first established, due to changes in the distribution of power and wealth and a new understanding of the beauty of nature.

In order to establish the national conditions different from the Tang Dynasty, and to revive the ancient traditions based on Confucianism and Taoism in the Han Dynasty, scholars and scholars of the Song Dynasty advocated free trade and gave more space for commercial activities, and the capital became a prosperous city. A large number of merchants from all over the country have formed a wealthy class in society, allowing more people to enjoy the privileges and luxury that were limited to the imperial family in the past. However, as the currency of the Song Dynasty, silver was in short supply, and gold ware was limited to the court. Therefore, the development of lacquer art not only met the daily needs, but also met the pursuit of beauty and the elegant taste of the upper class.

Song people believe in the light fragrance of chrysanthemum, like a gentleman who is modest and noble. In this way, most of the utensils are made of the circle stacking technique (the thin wood pieces are bent into the shape of the utensils and stacked with each other) as the wooden body, or the linen cloth is pasted as the sandwich body. The latter can be made into more complex patterns and make the device as light as a feather, just like this. The leaf of this disc is light and delicate, the black lacquer is ochre, soft and lustrous, and the color and shape are harmonious. For an example of a slightly larger size, please refer to the plate sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong on October 2, 2018, lot 3116.

Sotheby's. HOTUNG The Personal Collection of the late Sir Joseph Hotung: Part 1, Hong Kong, 8 October 2022