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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.


底部一處約6公分沖線,於器內外補釉。器內魚5點位置見一處雞爪紋,最長處約7.5公分。足圈見輕磕,屬正常。


"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."

Hirano Kotoken, Tokyo.

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


平野古陶軒,東京

倫敦蘇富比2016年5月11日,編號32

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


《白鶴春季特別展.中國古陶磁》,白鶴美術館,神戶,1972年

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 [https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/A_PDF-154], the other from the Eumorfopoulos collection, illustrated in R.L. Hobson, The Eumorfopoulos Collection, vol. III, London, 1926, pl. XXVII, no. C 133 (https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/A_1937-0716-61). 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.


此盌器形豐碩,乃傳世定瓷之最大一例。盌身刻紋刀法利落大氣,尤其難得。此盌紋飾精妙,刻畫寫意,鯉魚靈動欲躍。與此盌器型尺寸與紋飾相類之傳世定瓷,海內外博物館未見有先例。定窰瓷器常飾蓮紋,本盌外壁刻蓮瓣紋,匠心一脈相承。河北曲陽定窰,位列宋代五大名窰,乃中國瓷器名品之一。定窰白瓷淳樸端莊,深得宮廷及士紳貴冑喜愛,甚至遠銷高麗(918-1392年)。對比一件魚紋盌,內壁刻一尾魚,器外無紋,較本品小、無圈足;一件蓋罐;一件深腹圓盌,器外飾蓮瓣紋,圖見《(韓國)國立中央博物館所藏中國陶磁》,首爾,2007年,圖版68、30-31。


北京故宮博物院藏一尺寸相類盌,飾一對小魚,展於《定窰雅集:故宮博物院珍藏及出土定窰瓷器薈萃》,北京,2012,編號53。尺寸及紋飾與本品相若者,拍賣會有一例,圖見《香港蘇富比三十週年》,香港,2003年,圖版103,售於香港蘇富比1995年10月31日,編號343,再售於紐約蘇富比2005年3月31日,後在2019年11月27日經香港佳士得拍出,編號3058。北京大學考古文博學院與河北考古學家合作發掘定窰遺址,該處出土一件相類盌之殘片,刊於《中和之美:定窰陶瓷藝術展》,北京藝術博物館,北京,2012年,編號162。


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。


河北定州兩座北宋佛塔基座出土之定瓷,大多飾蓮瓣紋,蓮紋與本盌相似。該遺址鄰近定窰,其中一座屬靜志寺,建於977年,另一座屬淨眾院,建於995年;參閱展覽圖錄《地下宮殿の遣宝》,出光美術館,東京,1997年。


台北故宮博物院蔡玫芬提出,於瓷品上加金屬邊稜乃當時宮廷貴冑喜好,全文見蔡玫芬,〈論「定州白瓷器,有芒不堪用」句的真確性及十二世紀官方瓷器之諸問題〉,《故宮學術季刊》,1997年,第2期,頁63-102。且可比較定窰劃花盌八棱大盌,芒口舊鑲銅扣,盌心劃牡丹盛放,內壁刻折枝蓮紋,先後屬艾弗瑞.克拉克伉儷、坂本五郎珍藏,初售於倫敦蘇富比1971年3月2日,編號135,再售於香港蘇富比2014年4月8日,編號11。