View full screen - View 1 of Lot 30. An exceptionally large and rare Dingyao 'fish' basin Song – Jin dynasty | 宋至金 定窰白釉魚藻紋大盌.

An exceptionally large and rare Dingyao 'fish' basin Song – Jin dynasty | 宋至金 定窰白釉魚藻紋大盌

An exceptionally large and rare Dingyao 'fish' basin Song – Jin dynasty | 宋至金 定窰白釉魚藻紋大盌

An exceptionally large and rare Dingyao 'fish' basin Song – Jin dynasty | 宋至金 定窰白釉魚藻紋大盌

An exceptionally large and rare Dingyao 'fish' basin

Song – Jin dynasty

宋至金 定窰白釉魚藻紋大盌

with deep rounded sides resting on a short foot, freely carved and combed to the interior with a large carp swimming amidst water weeds, the exterior carved and moulded with three rows of overlapping upright leaves, applied overall with an even ivory-coloured glaze, the rim bound with metal, Japanese wood cover and boxes

32 cm

There is an approx. 6 cm retouched crack to the base with associated overpainting on the interior and exterior, and a star crack to the side at the 5 o'clock position of the fish, the longest branch measuring approx. 7.5 cm. There are expected minor nicks to the footring.


"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.


Hirano Kotoken, Tokyo.

Sotheby's London, 11th May 2016, lot 32.



Hakutsuru Shunki Tokubetsuten - Chugoku Kotoji [Haktutsuru Spring Exhibition - Chinese Ceramics], Hakutsuru Museum, Kobe, 1972.


This monumental basin is among the largest pieces of Ding ware recorded, and it is very rare to find a piece with such bold large-scale carving. The decoration on the present bowl is particularly successful, since the carp is very confidently drawn and prominently placed. No Ding ware of similar size and design seems to be recorded in any museum worldwide. The basin also features lotus petals carved on the outside, one of the most representative patterns of Ding ware vessels of various shapes. Ding white ware made in Quyang, Hebei province ranks among the Five Great Wares of the Song dynasty (960-1279) and is one of the most famous types of Chinese ceramics. Because of their fame and excellent quality, Ding wares were not only highly favoured by the royal court and upper classes, but also found their way to other countries such as Koryo (918-1392) at the time of their manufacture. Compare a basin with a carved fish inside and plain outside, of smaller size and with no foot, and a covered jar and a deep rounded bowl with lotus petals carved outside, illustrated in Chinese Ceramics in the National Museum of Korea, Seoul, 2007, pls 68, 30-31.

In the Palace Museum, Beijing is a basin of similar size, but with the large carp replaced by a pair of much smaller fish; see the exhibition Selection of Ding Ware. The Palace Museum's Collection and Archaeological Excavations, Beijing, 2012, cat. no. 53. Only one piece similar in size and design to the present basin seems to have been sold at auction, illustrated in Sotheby's: Thirty Years in Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2003, pl. 103, first sold in these rooms, 31st October 1995, lot 343, again in our New York rooms, 31st March 2005, lot 32, and a third time at Christie's Hong Kong, 27th November 2019, lot 3058. A fragment of a similar basin, found at the Ding kilns during excavations carried out jointly by the School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, and Hebei archaeologists, is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Ding Kiln of China, Beijing Art Museum, Beijing, 2012, cat. no. 162.

Smaller basins carved with a single fish are known in a few world-famous collections; see two examples now in the British Museum, London, one from the Sir Percival David Collection, published in Mary Tregear, Song Ceramics, London, 1982, col. pl. 29 [], the other from the Eumorfopoulos collection, illustrated in R.L. Hobson, The Eumorfopoulos Collection, vol. III, London, 1926, pl. XXVII, no. C 133 ( Another basin in a private collection, included in the exhibition Chinese Ceramics from the Prehistoric Period through Ch’ien Lung, Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, 1952, cat. no. 143, is discussed in Henry Trubner, ‘A Ting-yao Bowl of the Sung Dynasty’, Far Eastern Ceramic Bulletin, vol. III, no. 4, 1951, pp. 21-23 and illustrated pls I and II.

Large Ding basins are more often decorated on the inside with lotus scrolls only, like three pieces in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, published in the Illustrated Catalogue of Sung Dynasty Porcelain in the National Palace Museum: Ting Ware and Ting-type Ware, Taipei, 1973, cat. no. 34; in the exhibition catalogue Song ci tezhan [Special Exhibition of Sung Wares], Taipei, 1978, cat. no. 27; and the Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Ting Ware White Porcelain, Taipei, 1987, cat. no. 32, the latter together with a basin of single-fish motif, of smaller size and plain outside, cat. no. 31. See also a further lotus-incised example, of slightly smaller size, from the collection of William Cleverley Alexander, sold in our London rooms, 6th May 1931, lot 48, and again at Christie's Hong Kong, 30th November 2020, lot 3001.

Lotus petal decoration similar to the present basin features prominently among Ding vessels of various shapes recovered from the foundations of two Northern Song pagodas in Dingzhou, Hebei province, close to the Ding kilns, one belonging to the Jingzhi Temple, built in AD 977, the other to the Jingzhongyuan Temple, built in AD 995; see the exhibition catalogue Treasures from the Underground Palaces, Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo, 1997, passim.

According to Ts’ai Mei-fen of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 'metal-banded rim [for ceramics] was the popular taste of the time', see Ts’ai Mei-fen, ‘A Discussion of Ting Ware with Unglazed Rims and Related Twelfth-Century Official Porcelain’, Arts of the Sung and Yüan, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996, pp. 109-131. Compare a famous Ding ware lobed basin with metal-bound rim, incised with a peony in the centre and lotuses around the well, formerly in the collections of Alfred and Ivy Clark, and Sakamoto Goro, sold in these rooms, 2nd March 1971, lot 135; and again in these rooms, 8th April 2014, lot 11.



數間世界級博物館珍藏相類單魚紋盌,卻較本品小,如倫敦大英博物館藏兩例,一件來自大維德爵士收藏,參閱 Mary Tregear,《Song Ceramics》,倫敦,1982年,圖版29;另一件出自尤莫弗普勒斯收藏,圖見 R.L. Hobson,《The Eumorfopoulos Collection》,卷III,倫敦,1926年,圖版C133。另有私人藏盌,展於《Chinese Ceramics from the Prehistoric Period through Ch’ien Lung》,洛杉磯縣博物館,洛杉磯,1952年,編號143,Henry Trubner 在專文中亦有討論,詳閱〈A Ting-yao Bowl of the Sung Dynasty〉,《Far Eastern Ceramic Bulletin》,卷III,第4期,1951年,頁21-23,圖版I及II。

如本品般定窰大盌,器內多僅劃蓮紋,器外光素,如台北故宮所藏三件,分別錄於《故宮宋瓷圖錄:定窰.定窰型》,台北,1973年,編號34;《宋瓷特展》,台北,1978年,編號27;《定窰白瓷特展圖錄》,台北,1987年,編號32,同書展示一件較小單魚紋盌,外壁無紋,編號31。William Cleverley Alexander 舊藏也有一蓮紋大盌,尺寸略較此小,初售於倫敦蘇富比1931年5月6日,編號48,後在於2020年11月30日經香港佳士得拍出,編號3001。