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More than a Game / A VERY RARE BRONZE ARROW VASE, TOUHU 14th/15th century

Lot 28
A VERY RARE BRONZE ARROW VASE, TOUHU
14th/15th century
29 May 2022, 14:00 HKT
Hong Kong, Admiralty

Sold for HK$456,600 inc. premium

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A VERY RARE BRONZE ARROW VASE, TOUHU

14th/15th century
Elaborately cast, the compressed globular body cast with four panels decorated with auspicious beasts amidst crashing waves, each separated with flanges in the form of scrolling ruyi-clouds, two sinuous chilong writhing around the middle section of the neck above stylised mountains and ruyi-cloud scrolls, the spreading foot and shoulders similarly cast with rocks and crashing waves, a pair of tubular lug handles flanking the upper neck with a densely meandering lotus scroll. 42.1cm (16 5/8in) high, 7.2kg.

Footnotes

十四/十五世紀 銅鏨刻犀牛望月紋投壺

Provenance:
Sotheby's, London, 1 November 1985
The Brian Harkins Collection

來源:
倫敦蘇富比,1985年11月1日
布萊恩·哈金斯珍藏

Compare with a closely related bronze arrow vase cast with similar high-relief decorations, which was exhibited in the Hong Kong Museum of Art and illustrated in The Radiant Ming 1368-1644, through the Min Chiu Society Collection, Hong Kong, 2015, p.316, pl.240.

Compare the high-relief similarly-shaped cloud-scroll flanges on the present vase with a related bronze arrow vase, dated 16th century, illustrated by P.K.Hu, Later Chinese Bronzes: The Saint Louis Art Museum and Robert E. Kresko Collections, Saint Louis, 2008, pp.36-41, no.5. The high-relief 'jagged' decoration is reminiscent of the decoration on a bronze arrow vase, Yuan dynasty, 13th century, illustrated by D.Failla, Food for the Ancestors Flowers for the Gods, Genova, 2017, p.305, fig.22.1.

The vase is crisply and smoothly cast to depict a one-horned rhinoceros with a buffalo body. Such design of rhinocero was popular during the Ming dynasty. Compare with a parcel-gilt bronze mirror stand decorated with rhinoceros in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated by R.Kerr, Later Chinese Bronzes, London, 1990, p.101; and another example illustrated by Philip Hu,Ibid, pp.70-73.

The rocky mountains and crashing waves on the present vase were a popular design on the porcelain from the early to mid-Ming dynasty. Compare a blue and white tripod censer similarly decorated with sea waves and mountains, Yongle period, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by Geng Baochang, ed., Gugong Bowuyuan Cang Ming Chu Hinghua Ci (Early Ming blue-and-white porcelain in the Palace Museum), Beijing, 2003, vol.1, no.25; see also a blue and white 'figural' jar, the interregnum period of the Ming dynasty, in the Capital Museum, illustrated in Lustre Revealed: Jingdezhen Porcelain Wares in Mid Fifteenth Century China, Shanghai, 2019, no.229. The neck and the tubular handles of the present vase are skilfully cast with lotus scrolls with the style of the Yongle and Xuande periods. Compare a blue and white stem cup with similar lotus scrolls, Xuande, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Gugong Bowuyuan Cang Ming Chu Hinghua Ci (Early Ming blue-and-white porcelain in the Palace Museum), Beijing, 2003, vol.2, no.167.

壺口兩側鑄雙貫耳,壺口及貫耳鏨刻浮雕纏枝番蓮紋,壺頸前後各鑄螭龍一尾,螭龍躬身又成一耳,龍獨角,三爪,花尾,鬚鱗鏨刻立體,頸身上層浮雕雲紋,下層浮雕山崖一周,肩部飾江水紋,鼓腹,腹部出四個雲紋扉棱,兩兩之間鏨刻海水犀牛一組,喇叭形圈足,其上飾海水江崖。

此壺紋飾全深刀鏨刻而成,花紋立體深峻,線條流暢生動,有削鐵如泥之功。香港閒趣軒藏一件明代青銅高浮雕雲龍紋投壺,工藝及紋飾與此頗似,特別是其貫耳之蓮紋及壺身鏨刻之海水江崖紋,展覽於香港藝術館,見《日昇月騰:從敏求精舍看明代》,香港,2015年,編號240,頁316。美國聖路易斯藝術博物館藏一件明代正德至萬曆時期銅投壺,其扉棱與本件頗似,見Philip Hu著,《Later Chinese Bronzes: The Saint Louis Art Museum and Robert E. Kresko Collections 》, 聖路易斯,2008年,頁36-41,編號5。又可參考意大利熱那亞國立愛德華多·基歐索尼東方藝術博物館所藏一件元代銅鋪首長頸瓶,亦是採用深刀鏨刻裝飾,見D.Failla著,《Food for the Ancestors Flowers for the Gods》,熱那亞,2017年,頁305,圖22.1。

明代犀牛形象常作獨角牛身,其形象可參考倫敦維多利亞及艾伯特博物館藏一件局部鎏金犀牛望月鏡架,見柯玫瑰著,《Later Chinese Bronzes》,倫敦,1990年,頁101;美國Robert E.Kresko藏一件明代銅犀牛望月鏡架亦可參考之,見Philip Hu著前書,頁70-73。

壺身所飾海水崖山在明代中早期瓷器上頗常見,可比較北京故宮藏一件明永樂青花海水江崖紋三足爐,見耿寶昌編,《故宮博物院藏明初青花瓷》,北京,2003年,上冊,編號25;又可比較首都博物館藏一件明代正統至天順時期之青花人物圖罐,見《灼爍重現:15世紀中期景德鎮瓷器特輯》,上海,2019年,編號229。壺頸及貫耳所飾連枝番蓮紋則有永宣時期風格,可比較一件北京故宮藏明宣德青花纏枝蓮紋高足杯所繪纏枝蓮紋,其佈局、形態與本件神似,見《故宮博物院藏明初青花瓷》,下冊,編號167。

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