Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art


supported on a slightly flared foot rising to a globular lower body curving to a narrow waist, the upper bulb thinning to a tapered neck and flanked by elegantly shaped 'S'-handles ending in ruyi-heads, the bulbs densely painted in vivid tones of cobalt blue with meandering scrolls of stylised lotus, interrupted by the moulded petal lappet borders issuing from a central raised band collaring the waist, the handles similarly decorated with floral scrolls, all between bands of pendent trefoil ruyi-shaped blooms and upright petals circling the mouth and foot respectively, the recessed base centred with an underglaze-blue six-character seal mark
29.5 cm., 11 5/8  in.
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Sotheby's Hong Kong, 17th/18th May 1988, lot 176.
Shimentang collection.
Eskenazi, London, November 2012.


Qing Porcelain from a Private Collection, Eskenazi, London, 2012, cat. no. 16.


Sotheby's Hong Kong – Twenty Years, Hong Kong, 1993, no. 184.
Sotheby’s: Thirty Years in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2003, no. 277.

Описание в каталоге

The present version of the double gourd vase, with its globular body, waisted form and exaggerated ear-shaped handles, is specific to the Qianlong period (1736-95). It is extremely rare to find a Qianlong vase of this form with underglaze-blue decoration instead of a monochrome glaze. It is clear that the painting of the lotus scrolls and upright and pendent petal lappets on the present vase draws closely on early Ming predecessors, and also deliberately simulates the archaising effect of "heaping and piling" of the blue pigments which is well known from imperial blue and white porcelain of the early Ming. For examples see two blue and white tankards of Xuande mark and period (1425-35), one in Geng Baochang ed., Early Ming Blue and White Porcelain of the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2002, cat. no. 94, the other in Helen D. Ling & Edward T. Chow, Collection of Chinese Ceramics from the Pavilion of Ephemeral Attainment, Hong Kong, 1950, vol. I, pl. 38.

For a large blue and white double-gourd vase of Qianlong mark and period, but without handles, see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Blue and White Porcelain with Underglazed Red (III), Shanghai, 2000, pl. 227. Compare also the better-known tea-dust glazed examples of the same form as the present piece, one in Illustrated Catalogue of Ch'ing Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum, Republic of China: Ch'ien-lung Ware and Other Wares, Tokyo, 1981, no. 80; one in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 938; one exhibited in Monochrome Ceramics of Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, Min Chiu Society, Hong Kong, 1977, cat. no. 100; and one sold in these rooms 17th and 18th May 1988, lot 238. A blue-glazed example with gilt lotus scrolls is published in Porcelain of the National Palace Museum: Fine Enamelled Ware of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Chien-Lung Period, Hong Kong, 1969, pls. 15, 15a and 15b. A celadon-glazed example with moulded lotus scrolls was included in Ching Wan Society Millennium Exhibition, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 2000, cat. no. 106.

For a double-gourd flask of closely related form, compare an exquisite famille-rose example of Qianlong mark and period, exhibited at the British Museum, London, 1994, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, London, 1994-2010, vol. 2, no. 962, sold in these rooms 16th November 1988, lot 368, at Christie's Hong Kong, 19th March 1991, lot 607, and again in these rooms 5th Oct 2011, lot 23.

Compare also a 14th-century celadon double-gourd vase without handles from Longquan kilns in Zhejiang, illustrated in Asada ke z¿hin tenkan ny¿satsu [Exhibition for Auction of Objects Collected by the Asada Family], Tokyo, 1934, no. 168, and Regina Krahl, op. cit., vol. 4, no. 1607; sold twice in these rooms, 2nd May 2005, lot 676, and 5th October 2011, lot 6.

The double gourd, hulu, was widely viewed in the Ming and Qing dynasties as auspicious, its large number of seeds representing fertility and the wish for numerous sons. It was also an important symbol in Daoism, particularly associated with Li Tieguai, one of the Eight Immortals, who is often depicted with a double gourd at his waist containing elixir of immortality. In addition, the name of the shape, hulu, forms a rebus with the phrase fulu, meaning happiness and prosperity through government positions.

Important Chinese Art