PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
Also see a smaller related type of zhadou (9.5cm high) with an elaborate foliate scroll around the belly and similar upright plantain leaves around the neck, including one from the R.H.R. Palmer Collection sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 17th January 1989, lot 570; another sold in our London rooms 30th November 1959, lot 23 and again 31st October 1974, lot 65.
While waves have been a common motif on blue and white wares on earlier Ming dynasty pieces, it was during the Xuande period that waves became a single motif rather than a background for other designs. The turbulent waves are also typical of the period with more abstracted waves commonly seen on earlier wares. The waves on the present lot are seen breaking over several small islands of rocks, which allude to the magical islands of Penglai, home of the Queen Mother of the West. Islands in turbulent waves are first seen on blue and white wares of the Yongle period.
Waves can also be a reference to tides, 'chao', which is a homophone for the word for 'audience,' thus expressing a wish for success as court official.
According to Margaret Medley, pieces with a 'stepped base' can be catagorized together in terms of dating. These types of pieces only come about in the late Xuande period and continued through the Interregnum period and into the Chenghua period.
The zhadou form or leys jar with its wide rim and globular body is an ancient form that appear on archaic bronzes in the form of a zun. Over the centuries, the rim has evolved to being wider and the body more compact. While some have called this form 'spitoon' shaped, it is not clear if these vessels were actually used as such. The form of the present lot is first seen in the 15th century and can be found on recently re-dated Imperial jun wares from the early Ming Dynasty, as seen with a zhadou in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated in He Li, Chinese Ceramics, London, 1996, p. 152, pl. 246. This shape can also be seen on later period ceramics from the Zhengde period including on a yellow ground with green enamelled dragon zhadou illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, op.cit. 8:32.
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