A VERY RARE SMALL BLUE AND AMBER-GLAZED 'TORTOISE' WATERPOT TANG DYNASTY | 唐 藍釉加黃彩龜形水注
6,000 - 8,000 GBP
TANG SANCAI - THE SZE YUAN TANG COLLECTION
A VERY RARE SMALL BLUE AND AMBER-GLAZED 'TORTOISE' WATERPOT
naturalistically modelled with its head raised, the shell detailed with hexagonal incisions with three central cells forming the opening to the hollowed body, the head and shell covered with an attractive blue glaze, the rest covered with an amber glaze
Width 8.5 cm, 3⅜ in.
There are three small glaze flakes to the inside edge of the rim.
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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."
The dating of this lot is consistent with the result of a thermoluminescence test, Oxford authentication Ltd., no. C120e88.
This charming figure of a tortoise was most likely used as a waterpot or a waterdropper, as suggested by the aperture on its back and the small hole in its mouth. The tortoise was a popular subject for writing utensils as it was symbolic of longevity, strength and wisdom, qualities also associated with scholars. Writing accessories in the form of tortoises were made in ceramic form at least since the Han dynasty (206 BC- AD 220), although those specifically intended as waterpots are rare.
A similar blue-and-amber glazed figure of a tortoise is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, accession no. EA1956.1057; another from the Charles B. Hoyt collection, is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no. 50.890; and a third in the Meiyintang collection, is published in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 3 (I), London, 2006, no. 1181.
A fragment of a blue-glazed tortoise, was discovered together with a green-glazed example at the Gongyi kilns in Gongxian, Henan province, suggesting a possible place of manufacture for this piece (Huangye Tang sancai yao/ Three-Colour Glazed Pottery Kilns of the Tang Dynasty at Huangye, Beijing, 2000, col. pl. 44, nos 1 and 2).