While the ravishing crackled glazes of the Song period enjoyed an unbroken history of appreciation through the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties, reproduction of these glazes reached a peak in the 18th century. Both the Yongzheng and Qianlong emperor's passion for these classic wares and technological advances at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen, allowed craftsmen to successfully reproduce these glazes in relatively large quantities. The fine pattern of crackles was purposefully made by carefully calibrating the cooling temperature in the kiln, which would produce two different layers of fissures that were later stained. The technical proficiency of the craftsmen that made this vessel is further evidenced by their ability to recreate both the unctuous crackled glaze and the dark brown foot, here stained dark brown.
Qianlong mark and period jars of this form and covered in a crackled glaze are unusual, and no other closely related example appears to have been published. A slightly larger ge-type vase but modelled with a taller neck and with animal-mask handles, from the Asukai family collection, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 29th May 2007, lot 1528.
Vases of this form are more commonly known covered overall in a flambé glaze; see for example a Yongzheng mark and period vase with mask handles sold in these rooms, 20th May 1980, lot 125, and another sold in our London rooms, 17th December 1996, lot 126.
The form of this piece appears to have been inspired by archaic bronze covered jars, known as fou, which were made in the Eastern Zhou dynasty (770-256 BC). See for example a fou unearthed from Liulige, Huixian, Henan province, and illustrated in Jenny So, Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Washington D.C., 1995, fig. 34.2.
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