Lot 456
  • 456

a fine and rare wucai 'garlic head' vase mark and period of Wanli

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the stoutly potted large pear-shaped body decorated in the wucai palette with frolicking mandarin ducks, herons and various other birds in a lotus pond grown with reeds and willow trees, beneath a band of ruyi lappets at the shoulder dividing foliate flowerheads, the tall neck with butterflies, a frog and a cricket amongst flower sprays issuing from ornamental rocks, the garlic-head shaped mouth with an elaborate band of ruyi-lappets enclosing lotus sprigs and hanging jewels, beneath the rim with the mark inscribed within a cartouche reserved on a multi-coloured key-fret border, the base unglazed

Catalogue Note

The present vase belongs to a group of wucai vases of the same shape with varying decoration.  A similar vase from the Palace Museum, Beijing, was included in Ming Qing Works of Art, Beijing, 1974, col.pl. 9.  See also one illustrated in John Ayers, The Baur Collection, vol. 2, Geneva, 1969, no. A203; and two related vases from the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, with waterfowl design, foliage scroll around the shoulder and pendent foliage around the head, exhibited by the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, and illustrated in Imperial overglaze - Enamelled Wares in the Late Ming Dynasty, Osaka, 1995, pl. 22.  For an example decorated with dragons chasing ‘flaming pearls’ see Liu Liang-yu, Ming Official Wares: A Survey of Chinese Ceramics, Taipei, 1991, p. 257.

A closely related example sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 6th November 1997, lot 1050.  Another Wanli-marked wucai vase of the same shape and pattern, but with different secondary decorative bands, was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 13th January 1989, lot 546; and another sold in our Los Angeles rooms, 2nd November 1981, lot 304.