Traditionally ascribed to the Northern Song dynasty, there has been much debate on the dating of numbered 'Jun' wares, however recent research seems to confirm a 15th century date. As explained in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming 50 Years That Changed China, British Museum, London, 2014, pp. 92-97, examples of this numbered group have not been found in any context other than the Beijing palace. None have been discovered elsewhere in China or farther afield, nor have any been excavated from tombs. Additionally the method of construction using double moulds did not exist until the early 15th century when it was created by potters at the Henan kilns. The author concludes that they were commissioned by the Yongle and Xuande Emperors for the new imperial palace where they were displayed and admired throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties.
A slightly larger flower pot of this hexagonal form inscribed with the Chinese numeral ba (eight) on the base, from the Qing court collection and now preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 22 (fig. 1). Shards of these six-footed hexagonal pots, were also excavated in 1974 at Juntai, Yuzhou, and illustrated in Selection of Jun Ware. The Palace Museum’s Collection and Archaeological Excavation, Beijing, 2013, pl. 81. Flower pots of this hexagonal shape is extremely rare, as they are usually known in deeper, lobed mallow-shaped forms, such as one sold in these rooms 8th April 2013, lot 3046.
Much admired from the Qing dynasty onwards, these Jun flower pots continue to elicit appreciation as well as provocation. The Yongzheng and Qianlong Emperors were great admirers of these fascinating vessels of opalescence. According to the records of the Imperial Palace Workshops (Zaobanchu) dated to the 21st year of the Qianlong reign (1756), the Emperor would command original numerals engraved on these flower pots to be effaced and incised with new numbers. There are currently about 20 vessels with these later engraved numbers known, all dispersed amongst the Emperor’s studies, residences and gardens. A hexagonal stand of this form but in larger size, with its original numeral qi (seven) effaced and engraved later in the Qianlong period with a Yangxindian (Hall of Mental Cultivation) mark, from the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is included in the museum's exhibition, The Enchanting Splendor of Vases and Planters: A Special Exhibition of Flower Vessels from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Taipei, 2014, pl. I-07.
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