The design and craftsmanship of Zhang Mingqi is renowned and has been copied extensively in later periods. However, as Hausmann notes, the current example is an original which demonstrates the outstanding quality of the best of his works. It has a wonderfully tactile and sophisticated super-elliptical shape which sits beautifully in the hand, like a pebble from a river bed. The meticulously cut-out lid is carefully shaped, creating a tension in the rim of the lid making it possible to turn the object upside down without the lid falling off. As is the case with the best handwarmers, this example greatly relies on the interplay of the cut-out sections of the lid and the material which remains, the yin
, the dark and light, for its powerful effect. For a more detailed discussion of Zhang Mingqi and other contemporaries’ works see Hausmann's essay article Keeping warm in a cold study,
reproduced in this catalogue.
The exquisite super-elliptical shape of this piece is the topic of a forthcoming article by Ulrich Hausmann.