AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE LARGE IMPERIAL RU-TYPE 'EIGHT TRIGRAMS' MOONFLASK, BIANHU Qianlong seal mark and of the period

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Lot 299
AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE LARGE IMPERIAL RU-TYPE 'EIGHT TRIGRAMS' MOONFLASK, BIANHU
Qianlong seal mark and of the period

Sold for £ 312,750 (US$ 426,624) inc. premium
The Property of a Distinguished British Family 英國顯赫家族藏品
AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE LARGE IMPERIAL RU-TYPE 'EIGHT TRIGRAMS' MOONFLASK, BIANHU
Qianlong seal mark and of the period
Superbly potted with a flattened circular body rising elegantly from a short spreading foot to a cylindrical neck collared with a raised ring and a lipped rim flanked by a pair of archaistic scroll handles, moulded in high relief on each side with a central domed medallion enclosing a yinyang motif encircled by the Eight Trigrams, ba gua, the ends decorated with raised bosses, covered overall in an attractive and unctuous bluish-green glaze with a network of fine crackles. 51.5cm (20 1/4in) high.

Footnotes

  • 清乾隆 仿汝釉太極八卦紋抱月瓶
    青花「大清乾隆年製」篆書款

    Provenance: Alfred Speelman Ltd., London
    An important British private collection, acquired from the above on 5 October 1970, and thence by descent

    來源:倫敦古董商Alfred Speelman
    英國重要私人收藏,於1970年10月5日購自上者,並由後人保存迄今

    The present vase is exceedingly rare and no other example from the Qianlong reign appears to have been published. A tour-de-force of craftsmanship, it is an exceptional example of the technical zenith achieved by potters working at the Imperial kilns in Jingdezhen during the celebrated Qianlong period. The imposing size and rare glaze would have presented multiple challenges: the first of balancing the weight of the porcelain; the second, of successfully imitating the prized Northern Song dynasty Imperial Ru glaze with its bluish tinge and fine craquelure. Both would have been affected by the kiln temperature and control of its firing conditions, requiring the most exacting standards to accomplish this ambitious feat.

    In form, the impressive moonflask is inspired by an early Ming dynasty design, which in turn drew on an Islamic metal prototype; see J.A.Pope, 'An Early Ming Porcelain in Muslim Style', in R.Ettinghausen, ed., Aus der Welt der Islamischen Kunst, Festschrift für Ernst Kühnel, Berlin, 1959, pp.357-375. In glaze, the flask imitates the rarest of the 'Five Great Wares' of the Song dynasty, the Ru glaze, used on wares made for the Imperial Court during the Northern Song dynasty. In design, the Eight Trigrams, bagua, introduces a religious dimension of Daoism, whereby the trigrams - Qian, Kun, Zhen, Xun, Kan, Li, Gen and Dui, which stand for heaven, earth, thunder, wind, water, fire, mountain and marsh respectively - provided the means of assessing the present state of the world and a basis for decision-making for the future; both of great bearing to the Emperor.

    The vase, although based on earlier prototypes in form, glaze and decoration, is a direct continuation of the previous Yongzheng reign; see a celadon glazed 'Eight Trigrams' moonflask, Yongzheng seal mark and of the period, illustrated in The Prime Cultural Relics Collected by Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum: The Chinaware Volume, vol.II, Liaoyang, 2008, p.61; and see also an 'Eight Trigrams' ge-type moonflask, Yongzheng seal mark and of the period, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Museum no.ZC003964N.

    The Daoist design of the present vase is a manifestation of the previous Yongzheng Emperor's known attraction to Daoist longevity practices, which included indulging in consumption of lead-based 'elixirs of life'. The Imperial Court provided patronage to the White Cloud Monastery in Beijing, and elaborate Daoist celebrations were also regularly staged around the Qianlong Emperor's birthdays. The grandest of Daoist rituals, the jiao rite of communal renewal, also received Imperial support. However, the Yongzheng Emperor's immersion in Daoist practices was an exception, as most of the Qing Emperors followed Buddhism alongside Confucian rituals of the state; see P.Berger, 'Religion', in E.S.Rawski and J.Rawson, eds., China: The Three Emperors 1662 - 1795, London, 2005, pp.132-133.

    Compare with a related Ru-type archaistic hexagonal vase, hu, Qianlong seal mark and period, which was sold at Sotheby's New York, 23 March 2011, lot 736. See also a related Ru-type glazed vase, cong, Qianlong seal mark and period, which was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 3 June 2015, lot 3108.
Contacts
AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE LARGE IMPERIAL RU-TYPE 'EIGHT TRIGRAMS' MOONFLASK, BIANHU Qianlong seal mark and of the period
AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE LARGE IMPERIAL RU-TYPE 'EIGHT TRIGRAMS' MOONFLASK, BIANHU Qianlong seal mark and of the period
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