A rare blue and white double gourd moonflask, bianping Early 15th century
Lot 212
A rare blue and white double-gourd moonflask, bianping Late Yongle
Sold for £216,000 (US$ 346,217) inc. premium

Lot Details
A rare blue and white double gourd moonflask, bianping Early 15th century A rare blue and white double gourd moonflask, bianping Early 15th century A rare blue and white double gourd moonflask, bianping Early 15th century A rare blue and white double gourd moonflask, bianping Early 15th century
Blue and white porcelain
The Property of a Gentleman
A rare blue and white double-gourd moonflask, bianping
Late Yongle
Modelled after a Middle Eastern prototype, each domed face well painted illustrating the characterstic 'heaping and piling' with an eight-pointed lappet starburst, one face with overlapping palmettes and radiating from a central petal medallion enclosing a yinyang motif, the other face interlaced with ruyi-shaped lappets encircling the medallion with inward-pointing petals, all encircled by a narrow foliate scroll band on one side and a classic scroll on the other, the upper bulb with a composite floral scroll of pinks and chrysanthemum blossoms, the applied ridged loop handles terminating with ruyi head terminals painted with a lotus spray.
25.8cm (10⅛in) high.

Footnotes

  • Provenance: a Middle Eastern collection, by repute
    Sotheby's London, 9 June 1992, lot 231
    An English private collection

    Moonflasks of this type are known in important museum collections: one of a similar size, attributed to the Xuande period is illustrated in the The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red, Hong Kong, 2000, pl.95; another similarly attributed from the Shanghai Museum is illustrated by Wang Qing-zheng, ed., Underglaze Blue & Red, Hong Kong, 1987, pl.52; see another illustrated by J.A.Pope, Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine, London, 1981, pl.55, no.29.458, now in the Tehran Museum; and also from the Percival David Foundation, British Museum, London, illustrated by D.Lion-Goldschmidt, Ming Porcelain, London, 1978, pl.35.

    A larger (32.5cm) moonflask attributed to the Yongle period, and with a less bulbous upper bulb, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong on 28 November 2006, lot 1512.

    Whilst many similar moonflasks are often attributed to the Xuande period, following the marked examples, a late Yongle dating should not be ruled out as the Xuande moonflasks were a continuation of similar earlier flasks, compare a Yongle moonflask excavated at Dongmentou, Zhushan, illustrated in Chang Foundation, Imperial Hongwu and Yongle Porcelain Excavated at Jingdezhen, Taipei, 1996, pl.65. The critical determining feature appears to be the shape of the very shallow footrim. It seems to be well-established, following considerable study, that a Yongle foot profile is oval; a Xuande one is rectangular. In the case of this vase, the oval foot suggests a Yongle date, while the decoration suggests a Xuande date in comparison with other published examples. It is therefore reasonable to suggest that this vase spans the change in Emperor, in the mid 1420s.

    These moonflasks were made primarily for export or as gifts to Near Eastern rulers. For the origin of its shape and decoration see J.Pope, 'An Early Ming Porcelain in Muslim Style', Aus der Welt der Islamischen Kunst, Festschrift fur Ernst Kuhnel, 1959; B.Gray, 'The Influence of Near Eastern Metalwork on Chinese Ceramics, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 1940-41, vol.18, p.57 and pl.7F; and M.Medley, 'Islam and Chinese Porcelain in the 14th and Early 15th Centuries', Bulletin of the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, no.6, 1982-84, fig.11.
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