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

LOT 28
14th/15th century
29 mai 2022, 14 h 00 UTC+8
Hong Kong, Admiralty

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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.


十四/十五世紀 銅鏨刻犀牛望月紋投壺

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


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.


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。


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