Lot 48
  • 48


40,000 - 60,000 GBP
446,100 GBP
bidding is closed


  • 17.6cm., 6 7/8 in.
    WEIGHT 318.5g.
the shallow bowl of circular shape resting on a flat base, the gently rounded sides indented on the interior dividing the bowl into six lobes, the wavy everted rim rendered to resemble the undulations of a lotus leaf, the interior of the bowl plain, the exterior superbly embellished with a finely engraved overall design of a scrolling vine laden with heavy fruit, symmetrically arranged with the arched, furled leaves forming foliate-shaped medallions, each enclosing a pair of confronting birds, the base finely engraved with six palmette shaped medallions enclosing a strange mythical figure with fox-like head and hoof feet carrying a small animal under his right arm, all reserved on a finely ring-punched ground


Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1954-55, cat. no. 100.

Chinese Gold, Silver and Porcelain. The Kempe Collection, Asia House Gallery, New York, 1971. cat. no. 47, an exhibition touring the United States and shown also at nine other museums.


Bo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, pl. 100.

Bo Gyllensvärd, 'T'ang Gold and Silver', Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 1957, pl. 29, figs. 43a, 59b, 78n, 80a.

Han Wei, Hai nei wai Tangdai jin yin qi cuibian [Tang gold and silver in Chinese and overseas collections], Xi'an, 1989, pl. 120.

Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 102.

Catalogue Note

It is rare to find silver bowls of this six-lobed form and even rarer are those with a rim fashioned to resemble the natural undulations of a lotus leaf. No other similar example appears to be recorded, although the wavy form is reminiscent of the famous poly-lobed silver bowl, excavated in 1970 from Prince Bin's treasure hoard at Hejiacun, Shaanxi prvince, illustrated in Han Wei and Christian Deydier, Ancient Chinese Gold, Paris, 2001, pls. 560-561. A silver cover in the form of an inverted lotus leaf, with the edge of the leaf curled up in a wave-like manner, excavated at Dingmaoqiao, Jiangsu province in 1982, is also related in shape to this bowl. This cover can be found in many publications including Tangdai jinyin qi, Beijing, 1985, pl. 229. Further examples of religious objects adorned with lotus petals and with lotus-leaf covers are recorded; for example, see a silver salt holder excavated in 1987 from the Famen Monastery Pagoda at Fufeng county, Shaanxi province, included in Han and Deydier, op.cit., pl. 633; a pair of silver water bowls in the form of lotuses with the foot in the form of large lotus leaves, also from the treasures found in the underground crypt of the Famen Monastery Pagoda, is illustrated ibid., pl. 669.  

Mythical figures such as the animal-headed spirit on this bowl are rare on Tang secular silverwork which tends to be decorated with more worldly scenes of daily life such as hunting or performances of music and dancing. The fabulous creature in the centre of the base is closely related to a design of mythical creatures among floral scrolls found on another very fine bowl in the Pierre Uldry Collection and formerly the Frederick M. Mayer Collection, included in the exhibition Chinesisches Gold und Silber, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 1994, cat. no.143. However, the style of the chased decoration on a ground of ring matting, seen on this vessel, is comparable with the decoration found on a silver bowl, also from the Hejiacun excavation, published ibid., pl. 537.