A RARE MINIATURE GREEN-GLAZED 'FOREIGN BOY' WINE VESSEL, TANG DYNASTY | 唐 綠釉胡人形小酒尊
TANG SANCAI - THE SZE YUAN TANG COLLECTION
A RARE MINIATURE GREEN-GLAZED 'FOREIGN BOY' WINE VESSEL
the kneeling boy holding a goose on his lap with its head held tight and with a funnel in its open beak, covered overall with a rich green glaze stopping above the base to reveal the buff body
Height 7.5 cm, 3 in.
The vessel is in good condition.
For more information on and additional images for this lot, please contact Alice.Garner @sothebys.com.
"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 playful miniature vessel belongs to a well-known group of earthenware funerary figures of wine merchants. More commonly known of much larger size, they depict foreign male or female figures holding either a wineskin bag or a ceramic vessel in the form of a goose or a lion with a stopper. Fragrant grape wine, as opposed to rice wine, was an expensive commodity imported from Western Asia and popular among the upper echelons of Tang society. While wine became more accessible in the 8th century, after a new variety of grapes began to be grown in Turfan, Gansu province, and in northern Shanxi province, imported wine continued to be sought after.
Such miniature figures of wine merchants were most likely made at the Gongyi kilns in Gongxian, Henan province, the main manufacturing centre of sancai ware in the Tang period. Moulds of miniature wine merchants were unearthed at the kiln site, and illustrated in Huangye Tang sancai yao/ Three-Colour Glazed Pottery Kilns of the Tang Dynasty at Huangye, Beijing, 2000, pl. 12, nos 5, 6 and 7. A figure of this type was excavated from the tomb of Lümiao, Luoyang, Henan province, and is now in the Luoyang Provincial Museum, illustrated in Luoyang Tang sancai/Tang Dynasty Tri-Colour Pottery of Luoyang, Beijing, 1980, pl. 91.
A figure holding a fish-shaped vessel, from the E.T. Chow collection was sold in these rooms, 16th December 1980, lot 219; another was sold at Christie’s London, 11th December 1989, lot 37. See also the much larger figure of a wine merchant from the collection of Neil F. Phillips, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 18th May 1872, lot 54, at Christie’s New York, 25th March 1998, lot 131A, and most recently offered in our New York rooms, 18th September 2007, lot 210.