An exceptionally rare pair of parcel-gilt silver 'carp' bowls Liao Dynasty (2)

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Lot 7
An exceptionally rare pair of parcel-gilt silver 'carp' bowls
Liao Dynasty

£ 120,000 - 150,000
US$ 150,000 - 180,000
An exceptionally rare pair of parcel-gilt silver 'carp' bowls
Liao Dynasty
Each with waisted sides rising from short flared foot rings to gently everted rims, the interiors chased with a writhing carp with finely incised scales and fins highlighted in gilt, all below a narrow gilt band of overlapping petals at the rim, the exteriors encircled by two bands of chased and gilt-flower-heads and leaves. Each 13.3cm (5 1/4in) diam.; 283g weight. (2).

Footnotes

  • The Property of a Gentleman 士紳藏品

    遼 局部鎏金銀鯉魚紋盌 一對

    Provenance:
    C.T. Loo, Paris
    A. & J. Speelman Oriental Art Ltd., London, 1990
    Jean-Yves Ollivier Collection

    來源:
    巴黎古董商盧芹齋先生舊藏
    倫敦古董商史博曼藝術藏品館,1990年
    歐宗易先生珍藏

    Large quantities of gold and silver utensils were produced during the Liao dynasty to satisfy the requirements of the foreign Qidan ruling elites. These objects included imperial diplomatic gifts, courtly tableware, mourning gifts exchanged among the nobility or ornaments manufactured for formal elite clothing, horse gear and carriages.

    The vast array of shapes and ornamental motifs decorating these objects demonstrate the exceptionally high level of precious metal craftsmanship which had continued from the previous traditions of the Tang and Song dynasties. According to surviving literary evidence, every year several bolts of silk, jades, Chinese delicacies and luxury items were sent to the Liao emperors from the Chinese courts of the Later Tang, Jin and Song, in the form of annual tributes or on the occasion of seasonal festivities including birthday celebrations or funerary ceremonies. See F.Louis, 'Shaping Symbols of Privilege: Precious Metals and the Early Liao Aristocracy', in Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, 2003, no.33, pp.71-109.

    The shape and design of the present bowls appear to be based on a Tang prototype. See, for instance, a silver bowl, Tang dynasty, from the Mengdiexuan Collection, bearing the same shape as the present bowls, illustrated by M.Crick and H.Loveday, L'Or Des Steppes. Arts Somptuaires De La Dinastie Liao (907-1125) Geneva, 2007, pl.III.8, p.38. See also a parcel-gilt silver bowl, Tang dynasty, decorated with two carp fish, excavated from an aristocratic tomb in the suburbs of Xian, in Shaanxi Province, illustrated by C.Michaelson, Gilded Dragons, London, 1999, p.107, fig.67.

    The carp, li, was highly regarded in China for its magical powers of transforming into a dragon after leaping over the Dragon Gate in the upper course of the Yellow River. Being also homophone with the word for benefit and profit, carp were also conceived as emblems of patience and good fortune by the candidates aspiring to pass the imperial examinations. When the Confucius' wife gave birth to a son, the King of Lu is believed to have sent a carp to congratulate him. The carp was also an imperial emblem during the Tang dynasty, as the surname of the Royal family was Li and whenever the officials entered the palace, they often wore a fish tally as an official credential. For reference, see E.Schafer, The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of Tang Exotics, Berkeley, 1963, pp.139-154.

    Compare with a pair of similar gilt-silver bowls, Liao (dated at the time as Song dynasty), also formerly with C.T.Loo, decorated with a carp design, illustrated by H.Scott, The Golden Age of Chinese Art, Tokyo, 1967, pl.4.

    銀質,圓口外翻,鼓腹,正中凸起如棱,下腹斜收於外撇之圈足。口沿內側鏨刻如意雲頭紋一周,盌內正中鏨刻一尾鯉魚,鯉魚身形肥碩,翻尾翹首,頭頂菱形花紋,鰭鱗鏨刻精細不苟,盌外壁鏨刻兩層雙葉花卉紋,圈足外壁亦鏨刻簡寫花草紋,全器凡鏨刻部分皆鎏金。

    遼代大量製作金銀器以供貴族使用。這些器具包括帝國間的外事禮物、貴族間交換的祭儀、餐具、隨身飾品和車馬裝飾。從其形制和裝飾上看,遼代工匠似乎很好掌握了唐朝和宋朝的工藝。根據現存的文獻,後唐、後晉和宋朝每年都向遼廷進貢大量絲、玉、土物和奢侈品,除了歲供,每逢生辰、節慶、紅白喜事則另有進獻。

    本拍品的器型和紋飾的原型可以追溯到唐代,可參考一件夢蝶軒所藏唐代銀碗,器型和本拍品一樣,見M.Crick 和H.Loveday著,《 L'Or Des Steppes. Arts Somptuaires De La Dinastie Liao (907-1125)(草原金器:遼代藝術)》,日內瓦,2007年,圖版III.8,頁38。西安郊區曾出土一件唐代局部鎏金銀盌亦資參考,見C.Michaelson著,《Gilded Dragons(鎏金龍)》,倫敦,1999年,頁107,圖67。因「鯉」「李」諧音,鯉魚紋故為唐代皇家紋章,臣公進宮時亦須在門房畫魚形花押,見E.Schafer薛愛華著,《The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of Tang Exotics(撒馬爾罕的金桃:唐代舶來品研究)》,伯克利,1963年,頁139-154。

    參考盧芹齋所藏另一件鯉魚紋局部鎏金銀盌,見H.Scott著,《The Golden Age of Chinese Art(中國黃金時代藝術)》,東京,1982年,圖版4。
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An exceptionally rare pair of parcel-gilt silver 'carp' bowls Liao Dynasty (2)
An exceptionally rare pair of parcel-gilt silver 'carp' bowls Liao Dynasty (2)
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