each with slightly flared steep sides rising from a flat base, supported on a tall hollow splayed foot, the interior of the cup carved with a pair of phoenix separated by two peonies, the four-character reign mark neatly inscribed in white slip on the base of the interior, all beneath a pale blue-green glaze
Delicately potted and carved to the interior, with a phoenix and peonies, the kings of birds and flowers, the angular form of the present pair of stemcups is rare; see a closely related example in the Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, illustrated in The Tsui Museum of Art. Chinese Ceramics IV – Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 18.
By the Qing dynasty, stemcups were held in great esteem as a form and figured prominently in rituals as well as gifted to Tibetan and Mongolian lamas and nobles. It is quoted that on the twenty-second day of the second month of the tenth year of Yongzheng's reign, the emperor sent an order to Nian Xiyao requesting, 'Make some stemcups in each of these colours: sacrificial red, sacrificial blue, yellow and white. Also have some heavier pieces ready for bestowal on Mongolian nobles as occasions arise' (see ibid., p. 45).
For examples of the more commonly known white-glazed Yongzheng stemcups with rounded cup and incised decoration, see one in the Tianminlou Collection, published in Chinese Porcelain: The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Hong Kong, 1987, pl. 134; another sold in these rooms, 14th November 1983, lot 154; and a third example sold at Christie's New York, 18th September 2003, lot 331.
During the Qianlong period, stemcups of this form were decorated with lança characters and lotus scrolls, reflecting the emperor's interest in Lamaist Buddhism; see one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Special Exhibition of K'ang-his, Yung-cheng and Ch'ien-lung Porcealin Ware from the Ch'ing Dynasty, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1986, cat. no. 69.
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