A rare and large imperial cloisonné enamel 'Three Rams' vase, Zun 17th/18th century

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Lot 142
A rare and large imperial cloisonné enamel 'Three Rams' vase, Zun
17th/18th century

Sold for HK$ 2,150,000 (US$ 276,149) inc. premium
A rare and large imperial cloisonné enamel 'Three Rams' vase, Zun
17th/18th century
The vase well cast of baluster form, supported on a tapered foot rising to a waisted neck, set with stylised chilong flanges and three rams heads on the shoulder, brightly and lavishly enamelled around the exterior with archaistic and stylised taotie masks above a band of florets and further band of cicada lappets reserved on a ground of densely scrolling lotus, the shoulder with a wide band of striding, stylised chilong beneath upright lappets enclosing further stylised taotie masks, all reserved on a turquoise ground. 68cm (26 3/4in) high.

Footnotes

  • 十七/十八世紀 掐絲琺瑯仿古獸面紋出戟三陽開泰尊

    Provenance:
    A French private collection

    來源:
    法國私人收藏

    The present physically and visually imposing zun vase is notable for its innovative form and represents the technical and artistic developments revived during the early Qing dynasty.

    Compare a nearly identical cloisonné enamel vase of similar size (67cm high) with flanges and similar ram heads and taotie-mask design, early Qing dynasty, in the Qing Court Collection, and another closely related example of similar form and design but without ram heads, with the mark 'Jingtai nian zhi', early Qing dynasty, illustrated in the Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Enamels 2 Cloisonné in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Beijing, 2011, nos.15-16.

    The present lot is laden with auspicious meaning. The sheep or goat, (yang 羊), appeared as early as the Han dynasty as a pun for xiang (祥), meaning 'auspicious' or 'lucky'. By the Qing period, the image of sheep has become heavily associated with yang (陽), meaning the sun, and the warm, positive or masculine force in Chinese cosmology. The sheep imagery then developed into three sheep, sanyang (三羊), as a reference to the favourable arrival of Spring, since the phrase sanyang kaitai (三陽開泰) refers to the period between the Winter solstice and the New Year. This is the period when the warm yang energy is said to emerge, as detailed in the ancient Chinese classic of cosmology, the Yijing (The Book of Changes).

    The ancient form of the vase, as well as the archaistic motifs of taotie masks and chilong flanges and designs, also reflects the archaistic scholarly trends of the 17th/18th centuries. The academic trend known as the 'search for evidence' (kaozheng 考證) movement began in the early 17th century. Although this movement originated in a renewed scholarly interest in ancient texts and inscriptions on archaic bronzes, as literati sought a more empirical approach to understanding their ancient heritage, it led to a greater fascination for decorative designs adopted from ancient bronzes too. Responding to this wave of archaism which would later be adopted by the Imperial court and Manchu emperors who wished to display their patronage of Han Chinese culture, artisans reproduced the motifs and patterns of ancient bronzes on their cloisonné enamel wares. Xiqing gujian (Catalogue of the Xiqing Antiquities), provided abundant prototypes to the recreations of archaistic pieces.

    The prototype of the present lot appears to be a drawing of an archaic bronze zun, illustrated in the Imperial catalogue of Chinese ritual bronzes known as the Xiqing gujian, Beijing, 1758, vol.10, p.35. This type of large wine vessel zun with three animal heads on the shoulder, and with stylised taotie masks on the body, was popular during the mid and late Shang Dynasty. For example, see an archaic bronze zun, mid Shang Dynasty, in the Henan Provincial Museum, illustrated in Zhongguo qingtongqi quanji (Complete Collection of Chinese Bronzes), Beijing, 1996, pl. 114.

    圓唇,口部外翻,束頸,折肩,鼓腹下收,高圈足外撇,頸部及肩腹部三面出戟,作鎏金卷草螭龍形,上中下四層三組,頸部鑄兩粒三組乳釘狀鎏金旋火紋凸起,肩部接三隻羊首,下腹部正中前後及圈足三面亦出螭龍戟,肩部掐絲作番蓮紋一周,每朵填色各異,有紅白藍綠諸色,其下掐絲飾蕉葉紋,葉內作饕餮紋,以回紋一周為底邊,回紋一下飾掐絲填琺瑯白地連枝菊瓣紋一周,肩部以羊首為中心,對稱飾掐絲填琺瑯香草龍紋一對三組,腹部以出戟為中心飾饕餮紋三組,饕餮紋之下有青地連枝菊花紋一周,下腹飾仰蕉葉紋一周,間以各色纏枝番蓮紋,圈足飾藍地青色拐子龍紋一周,器內皆鎏金。

    此器原形為商代青銅尊,可參考河南省博物院藏一件商代中期獸面紋牛首尊,見《中國青銅器全集》,北京,1996年,卷1,編號114;《西清古鑒》亦有著錄相似器物,見《西清古鑒》,北京,乾隆十四年(1758),卷10,頁35,書中記為周代,似不確,當為商器。晚明以來常見三代銅器為標準而創作器物,金玉竹木皆有為之。這一慕古風尚上接宋代宣和,下迄清代乾隆,然而雖以古物為本,裝飾大多數實則為本朝創意。宋人的仿古在徽宗時期到達頂峰,官方主持製作仿古器物,發放大臣家廟及學宮供奉祭祀,多少有政治含義,意在確立皇權的正統,統一禮制;明代晚期的仿古則多了市民意趣,即有忠實仿造,亦有天馬行空的古風作品;清代,特別是乾隆一朝的仿古,既有政治意圖,亦有美學創意,所謂「以遊藝之餘功,寄鑒古之遠思,亦足稱昇平雅尚」。(乾隆帝《西清古鑒》序)

    清人喜諧音象形等吉祥裝飾,便將商尊肩部常見的牛首、龍首改為三個羊首,寓意三陽開泰。景泰藍經過明代的發展,清初的進步,到乾隆時掐絲精細,發色艷麗,仿古器型因為出土實物日夥而更加逼肖。 三陽開泰,亦作三陽交泰,本為易學用語,依《易》十二消息卦之說,十月為坤卦,純陰之象;十一月為復卦,一陽生於下;十二月為臨卦,二陽生於下;正月為泰卦,三陽生於下,象徵冬去春來,陰消陽長,萬事吉祥。故「三陽開泰」被用來稱頌歲首或用作吉祥之辭。

    北京故宮博物院藏有一件相似的清代早期掐絲琺瑯三陽開泰尊可資比較,見《故宮博物院藏品大系琺瑯器編》,北京,2011年,卷2,編號16;故宮另有一件清早期掐絲琺瑯獸面紋出戟尊,鈐有「景泰年製」款,除羊首從缺,器型裝飾與本品近同,見前書,編號15。
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A rare and large imperial cloisonné enamel 'Three Rams' vase, Zun 17th/18th century
A rare and large imperial cloisonné enamel 'Three Rams' vase, Zun 17th/18th century
A rare and large imperial cloisonné enamel 'Three Rams' vase, Zun 17th/18th century
A rare and large imperial cloisonné enamel 'Three Rams' vase, Zun 17th/18th century
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