Moonflasks of this design and large size are rare. A challenging shape to fire without leaning to one side, the present flask is almost perfectly straight. Its shape follows an early Ming type which in itself was inspired by middle-eastern metalware. The design of lotus petals radiating from a central rosette adorning either side of the flask is also inspired by more stylised geometric star-shaped medallions centred on a yin-yang
symbol, with curved bands and pointed tips vaguely reminiscent of leaves and petals, found on 15th century flasks as exemplified by a blue and white flask from the Ardabil Shrine in the National Museum of Iran, Teheran, published in Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections
, Tokyo, New York, and San Francisco, 1980-1982, vol. 4, col. pl. 58. An early 15th century blue and white basin from the Avery Brundage Collection and now in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, shows even more clearly the influence of early Ming blue and white porcelain designs on blue and white porcelains of the Qianlong period. It is decorated with a closely related design of eight petal panels radiating from a double vajra
with each panel containing one of the eight auspicious Buddhist emblems, bajixiang
, see Blue and White
, Chicago, 1985, cat. no. 28.
Similar Ming-style blue and white moonflasks of this large size are known in museums and private collections. Compare an example illustrated in the Illustrated Catalogue of Ch’ing Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum, vol. II, Tokyo, 1981, cat. no. 5; another Ming-style blue and white moonflask of this type and size from the Edward T. Chow Collection, was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 19th May 1981, lot 544; more recently, a pair of similar moonflasks was sold in our London rooms, 15th May 2010, lot 222, finally, yet another example was sold in our Paris rooms, 16th December 2015, lot 78.