modelled in the form the archaic bronze drinking vessel, the U-shaped body raised on three splayed triangular feet, flaring at the rim, one side with a broad rounded extension, the other with a channeled spout tapering to a point, set with two short posts with rounded finials, a small raised fillet encircling the body, all covered by a creamy slightly opaque 'sweet white' tianbai glaze stopping short above the base of the feet, the underside left unglazed and slightly tinged to pale orange during the firing
A closely related example, excavated from the Yongle stratum of the imperial kiln sites in Jingdezhen, was included in the Exhibition of Imperial Porcelain of the Yongle and Xuande Periods Excavated from the Site of the Ming Imperial Factory at Jingdezhen, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, cat. no. 17, where it is noted that historical sources record that the Hongwu emperor ordered white-glazed jue to be produced for ritual ceremonies (p. 116).White is the traditional colour of mourning in China and in order to legitimise his claim as the rightful heir of Hongwu, Yongle held ceremonies for the deceased Hongwu emperor during which this jue may have been used. Christine Lau, in 'Ceremonial Monochrome Wares of the Ming Dynasty', published in 'The Porcelains of Jingdezhen', Colloquies on Art and Archaeology in Asia, no. 16, Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1992, p. 90, discusses the use of these cups for wine libations and suggests that white pieces were made specifically for the royal tombs. She illustrates two diagrams from the Da Ming Huidian [Collected Statutes from the Ming] showing the correct placement of jue and other sacrificial vessels in state rituals, figs. 1 and 2. Lau further notes that jue were created during the Jiajing period and used for offering sacrifices in the Zhang Ling (the mausoleum of the Yongle emperor, the first of the Ming tombs near Beijing) and other royal tombs; see a Jiajing mark and period example, from the J.M. Hu family collection, sold in our New York rooms, 4th June 1985, lot 8.
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