Important And Rare Qianlong Imperial Moonflasks On Preview At Bonhams New York

Rare and important pair of Qianlong Imperial blue and white Bajixiang Moonflasks

NEW YORK – In anticipation of the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale in Hong Kong (May 30), Bonhams New York previews a rare and important pair of Qianlong Imperial blue and white Bajixiang Moonflasks (Estimate on Request). The flasks be viewed during Bonhams' Asia Week public preview, March 9-14.

The Bonhams San Francisco team discovered this exquisite pair in the dining room of the late Belle Skinner Kilborne Taylor, a granddaughter of silk manufacturer and philanthropist, William Skinner (1824-1902). The flasks embody the highpoint of Qianlong Imperial power, crafted for Yongle, the third Ming emperor, who ruled from 1402 to 1424. Based upon Yuan and Ming dynasty vessels of a similar shape but flat backed, the round shape of the moonflasks resembles the shape of a Middle Eastern water vessel (Arabic wudu). This elegant pair are decorated on each face in underglaze blue with the Eight Precious Emblems bajixiang consisting of a pair of fish, a conch, a wheel, an endless knot, a victory banner, a parasol, a lotus flower and a vase each symbolising specific virtues.

The moonflasks were purchased by Belle Skinner Kilborne Taylor's aunt Ruth Isabelle ('Belle'), for whom she was named, during her travels through Asia in 1889 and 1909. They were displayed in the newly built Great Hall of the family home completed by Belle before her sudden death in 1928. A noted businesswoman and humanitarian, Belle Skinner received the Legion d'Honneur from the French government for her role in rebuilding of the town of Hattonchatel and the Chateau de Hattonchatel following World War I. Belle's sister Katherine Skinner Kilborne, the youngest of the Skinner children, inherited the moonflasks, which were passed down to her daughter Belle.

Dessa Goddard, US Head of Asian Art says, "This pair of moon flasks is an exceptional and fascinating example of cultural interaction, fusing Middle Eastern and Chinese sculptural traditions in the 14th century and representing the ultimate in Chinese porcelain achievement in the Qianlong period. We are expecting intense interest from across the world, as this would be an extraordinary addition to any collection of fine Chinese art."

Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
Bonhams, Hong Kong
30 May 2017

Specialists: Asaph Hyman, International Head, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Asia and Europe, Xibo Wang, Head of the Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong

Public preview hours at Bonhams, New York: March 9 – 14, 10 am – 5 pm

For further information and images call Lorraine Rubio on (917) 206 1609, or email or

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