Vases with movable parts are highly complex in both their construction and decoration and involved numerous techniques and production processes. They were an extraordinary challenge for the potters, as each element of their required the utmost mastery in designing, glazing and enamelling to ensure they perfectly fitted together. The present example is remarkably successful in its dramatic combination of an opaque tea-dust glaze with the luxurious palette at the neck and foot, and the detailed elephant-head handles.
A revolving vase of similar form and size, but with the main body covered in a robin’s-egg glaze and the neck painted with flowers against a ruby ground, was sold in these rooms, 8th April 2011, lot 3072. A non-revolving vase of this form, perhaps a precursor to the present example, also with a robin’s-egg glazed centre, is illustrated in S.W. Bushell, Oriental Ceramic Art, London, 1981 (1896), pl. 108; and another was sold in our New York rooms, 31st May 1989, lot 202.
The possibilities presented by the revolving mechanism were also explored on bowls, such as one which rotates around a similarly shaped ruyi-moulded foot, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum’s exhibition Stunning Decorative Porcelains from the Ch’ien-lung Reign, Taipei, 2008, cat. no. 63.
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