A RARE AMBER-GLAZED 'MUSICIANS' FLASK NORTHERN QI DYNASTY | 北齊 黃釉樂舞圖扁壺
TANG SANCAI - THE SZE YUAN TANG COLLECTION
A RARE AMBER-GLAZED 'MUSICIANS' FLASK
NORTHERN QI DYNASTY
modelled after a Central Asian metal shape with sloping shoulders and tapering form, moulded in relief on both sides with a pair of musicians on either side of a foliate motif, all below a small mascaron roundel flanked by two apsaras, covered overall with a light amber-coloured glaze
Height 11.7 cm, 4⅝ in.
Small scattered glaze flakes to the raised parts of the design on both sides of the flask, scattered glaze impurities, a circa 3x2 cm wide uneven unglazed area to one side, and minute losses to the glaze on the foot.
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"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
This piece belongs to a small group of flasks made in northern China and inspired in both form and design by Western Asian pilgrim bottles. While flasks of this type are typically moulded on both sides with dancers surrounded by musicians, the present example is decorated with a human mask at the centre. This motif is discussed by Suzanne Valenstein, who suggests it originated on contemporary Khotanese earthenware, (Suzanne G. Valenstein, “Preliminary Findings on a 6th Century Earthenware Jar”, Oriental Art, vol. XLIII no. 4 (1997-8), pp 2-13).
A slightly larger flask of this type, with a dancer at the centre, was discovered at the Northern Qi (550-577) tomb of Fan Cui, at Honghetuncun, Anyang, Henan province, dated in accordance with 575, now preserved in the Henan Provincial Museum, Zhengzhou; a similar flask is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession no. 2001.629; another lacking the arabesques, from the Charles B. Hoyt collection, is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no. 50.883; and a much larger flask in the Meiyintang collection, is illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 3 (I), London, 2006, pl. 1236. See also a green-glazed flask of similar form and design, from the George Eumorfopoulos collection, now in the British Museum, London, accession no. 1936,1012.3.