View full screen - View 1 of Lot 3501. An extremely rare Junyao purple-splashed small bubble bowl, Northern Song dynasty | 北宋 鈞窰天藍釉紫斑小盌.

An extremely rare Junyao purple-splashed small bubble bowl, Northern Song dynasty | 北宋 鈞窰天藍釉紫斑小盌

Auction Closed

April 8, 03:16 AM GMT


600,000 - 800,000 HKD

Lot Details


An extremely rare Junyao purple-splashed small bubble bowl,

Northern Song dynasty

北宋 鈞窰天藍釉紫斑小盌

Japanese wood boxes

d. 6.4 cm

An important Japanese private collection.


Despite its petite size, this seemingly simple stoneware bowl is an exemplar of the Jun ware design thesis that seeks to express timeless beauty and minimalist aesthetics with its uniqueness, abstraction and harmony, enticing many antiquarians for an intimate inspection of its status as a paragon of Song ceramics and Jun ware design philosophy. 

Jun wares from kilns in Yuxian, Henan are among the most daring creations in the history of Chinese ceramics, and undoubtedly the most flamboyant of the major wares of the Song dynasty. Among the various Jun ware shapes, these bowls with their well-rounded form fits perfectly in the hand, coupled with its diminutive size compared to its counterparts, are often considered the most endearing. They are often referred to as 'bubble bowls' in the West – and aptly so – as the shiny reflection inside the bowl gives the appearance of a soap bubble forming above the rim of the vessel.  

Far from being a mere application of different glazes, the captivating purple-and-blue colour combination seen on the present bowl is in fact a multi-layered optical illusion steeped in unpredictability. The bright sky-blue ground derives not from a pigment but from an optical illusion that mirrors the blue of the sky; microscopic glass droplets are formed from the firing of the glaze and subsequently scatter and cast off blue light. The vibrant purplish-red splashes, on the other hand, are achieved through an application of copper-based pigment splashes and washes, which then merge with the dried milky sky-blue ground before being fired in a reduction kiln. The copper-rich pigment is incredibly difficult to control in the firing and thus not fully predictable in its outcome, making preconceived designs practically impossible and each Jun ware a unique work of abstract art. The two fluid purple splashes on the present bowl appear to dance around each other in a swirling motion on the inside, suggestive of a yin-yang movement or a formation of ‘clouds’ appearing on a bright blue sky. This bowl belongs to a small and distinctive group; while bubble bowls come in many variations, mostly with a predominance of blue, sometimes with a predominance of purple, it is particularly rare to have an even distribution of blue and purple, with two or three purple splashes both inside and outside as seen on the present bowl.

Related examples include two bowls in the Baur Collection, illustrated in John Ayers, The Baur Collection, Geneva: Chinese Ceramics, Geneva, 1968, vol. I, nos A 31 and A 32; another bowl in the Sir Percival David Collection in the British Museum, illustrated in Stacey Pierson, Song Ceramics: Objects of Admiration, London, 2003, pl. 20; and two in the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in Selection of Jun Ware. The Palace Museum’s Collection and Archaeological Excavation, Beijing, 2013, pls 35 and 36. Compare also a bowl from the Canton Collection, similarly with two purple splashes both inside and outside, first sold in our London rooms, 12th June 2003, lot 107, and subsequently in these rooms, 13th October 2021, lot 3634.


藍釉紫斑鈞瓷,造於宋時河南鈞州,今禹縣,色彩斑斕,明艷迷人,如此釉彩變化,可謂中國陶瓷史上最大膽之創新,亦是宋代五大名瓷中最耀眼者。鈞瓷小盌,玲瓏巧緻,令人愛不釋手,西洋稱之「bubble bowl」,意譯「泡泡盌」,乃因柔光之下,盌心釉光相映,恍似皂泡自口沿升起,通圓晶瑩,令人心往神馳。


銅,可發紫紅,以筆潑繪,故成斑斕。 含銅色料難以掌控,無法預知成果,紫斑參差多態,且發色渾然天成,是故每器皆舉世無雙,佳品作例實機緣偶得。本品內部二紫斑,遙相呼應,宛若對舞,仿似陰陽相應交融,又宛若紫嵐青空,雲氣流轉,瞬霎萬千。此類小盌,多數為天青釉者,亦有紫釉為主;然如此器者,天青紫斑相融相映,內外見二或三處清晰紫斑,更不可多得,細細把玩,側賞釉面各角度,構圖相異,意趣盎然。

鮑爾收藏二相類例,載錄於約翰.艾爾斯,《The Baur Collection Geneva: Chinese Ceramics》,卷1,日內瓦,1968年,編號 A31、A32;大維德基金會典藏一例,現存大英博物館,錄於畢宗陶,《Song Ceramics: Objects of Admiration》,倫敦,2003年,圖版20。北京故宮博物院亦藏二例,出版於《鈞瓷雅集:故宮博物館珍藏及出土鈞窰瓷器薈萃》,北京,2013年,圖版35、36。另可參考小聽颿樓舊藏例,先後兩度售於倫敦蘇富比2003年6月12日,編號107;及香港蘇富比2021年10月13日,編號3634。