A finely carved and molded 'Ding' ewer, Northern Song dynasty | 北宋 定窰白釉牡丹紋執壺
A finely carved and molded 'Ding' ewer
Northern Song dynasty
the hexalobed spherical body surmounted by a tall cylindrical, slightly waisted neck, one side applied with an openwork triple-strap loop handle with raised bosses terminating in a delicately molded beast-mask at the base, opposite a finely articulated dragon head with a curving elongated spout extending from its open mouth, a column of bosses on the underside of the spout, the body deftly carved with two lush peony blossoms on a meandering leafy scroll in relief, above petal lappets encircling the base, all under a translucent cool white glaze
Height 7¾ in., 17.8 cm
Restoration to the tip of the spout as well as hairline cracks and small chips on the handle, with associated areas of overspray. A vertical glaze line at the shoulder approx. 4 cm long. A very minor flake to the foot wall approx. 0.4 cm across. There is a firing tear across the base, also visible in the interior.
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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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Offered at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 1st November 1994, lot 5.
The present ewer is an unusually fine and elaborate example from a small group of early white wares with carved designs. Its motifs are individually modeled and combine mythical and natural forms, with the latter informed by direct observation of native flora, contributing to the overall elegance of the design. An ewer of very similar proportions but with a much simpler handle (perhaps replaced) and slightly simpler design of the flowers is illustrated in Oscar Rücker-Embden, Chinesische Frühkeramik, Leipzig, 1922, col. pl. 24, with a line drawing of the carving, pl. 25, from the author's collection and later in the Staatliche Porzellansammlung, Dresden.
Compare also an ewer with a similar dragon-head spout but with a much wider neck and simpler handle in the Ding County Museum, Hebei province, illustrated in Ding Yao Ceramics from the Beixuan Shuzhai Collection, Hong Kong, 2013, fig. 27. And another ewer with angled sides, overlapping lotus petals, and very similar dragon spout, standing slightly taller (18.7 cm), is in the Musée Guimet, Paris, illustrated in Mino Yutaka, Hakuji [White Porcelain], vol. 5. Tokyo, 1998, pl. 40.
The petal design on the base of this vessel is also present on a white-glazed Xing ware bowl from the Tang dynasty, formerly in the Percival David Foundation Collection, and now in the British Museum, London (museum no. PDF.182). Due to the similarity between Xing and Ding wares, this bowl was previously believed to be a Ding ware of the Song dynasty, and only in recent years has it been identified a product of the earlier period and kiln site based its glaze and other properties. For another Ding ware carved with this motif, see a box with a similar petal design excavated in Quyang County, Baoding City, Hebei Province and exhibited and illustrated in Ding Ware, The World of White Elegance, Recent Archaeological Findings, Osaka, 2013, p. 121, pl. 14.