Unknown Delights from the Tianminlou Collection

Hong Kong | 30 May
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The Tianminlou collection, assembled by Ko Shih Chao (1911–1992), also known as S.C. Ko, can be considered one of the most remarkable private assemblages of Chinese ceramics. Chairman of the honourable Min Chiu Society of collectors, S.C. Ko was a discerning collector who generously and keenly shared his collection with a large audience. The educational aspect was always matters of great importance to him. He always made his pieces readily available to the scholarly community, to students as well as fellow collectors, to be physically handled, studied and discussed.

The wide range of the group of ceramics offered here may come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the Tianminlou name, as most pieces offered in the upcoming Hong Kong sale have not been published before, and it reflects the collector’s broad interest in the subject, leading us through the best part of China’s ceramic history.

Unknown Delights from the Tianminlou Collection

  • A RARE HUOZHOU WHITE-GLAZED STEM BOWL
    SONG DYNASTY
    Estimate: HK$200,000-300,000
    Notable for its lustrous and creamy-white glaze, this stem bowl was likely made at the Huozhou kilns, which were renowned for producing fine quality white wares inspired by the celebrated Ding wares of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127). White-glazed stem bowls of this unusual form, with a short flaring foot and a slightly incurved rim are rare.
  • A LONGQUAN CELADON RUYI-HANDLED MALLET VASE
    SONG DYNASTY
    Estimate: HK$200,000-300,000
    Longquan vases of this distinct shape were seldom made with handles in the form of lingzhi. This particular form, which was popular in the Song dynasty, is believed to have been inspired by glass vases made in the Middle East, possibly Iran.
  • AN INCISED DINGYAO CUP
    NORTHERN SONG DYNASTY
    Estimate: HK$100,000-150,000
    This cup is notable for its confidently carved design on the interior, which accentuates the creamy white glaze.
  • A JUNYAO BLUE-GLAZED DISH
    NORTHERN SONG DYNASTY
    Estimate: HK$250,000-300,000
    The shallow and sturdy form of this dish, with a wide everted rim, represents a classic shape of Jun ware produced at kilns in Henan province. One of the ‘Five Classic Wares’ of the Song dynasty, these wares are known for their ravishing blue glazes, which were achieved from an optical illusion where minute spherules of glass in the glaze scattered blue light. Unlike the other classic wares of the Song dynasty, the porous and thick body of Jun ware was best suited for simple forms, such as this charming dish.
  • A JUNYAO PURPLE-SPLASHED BOWL
    NORTHERN SONG – JIN DYNASTY
    Estimate: HK$150,000-200,000
    This bowl is remarkable for its dramatic deep-purple splash on the exterior, boldly applied to form an undulating pattern that moves through the sides of the vessel. The variegated splashes stand against an attractive light blue glaze, which covers the entire vessel save for the footrim and a small area on the interior. The latter suggests that this piece was fired together with another smaller vessel that stood in its interior.
  • A BLUE AND WHITE 'EGRETS AND LOTUS' POURING BOWL, YI
    YUAN DYNASTY
    Estimate: HK$350,000-450,000
    Known as yi, bowls of this form appears to have been used as pouring vessels together with yuhuchun vases, probably inspired by metal prototypes. Spouted bowls painted with this motif of egrets in a lotus pond are rare.
  • A WUCAI 'BAJIXIANG AND LOTUS' JAR
    MARK AND PERIOD OF JIAJING
    Estimate: HK$400,000-600,000
    Jars of this square form decorated with such vibrant designs were an innovation of the Jiajing period. They encapsulate the creative freedom enjoyed by potters active in this period. The colourful wucai palette allowed potters to create increasingly complex and colourful motifs. As seen on this jar, so painted vibrantly with the Eight Buddhist emblems (bajixiang) wreathed in scrolling lotus blooms.
  • A FINE MING-STYLE WHITE-GLAZED ANHUA-DECORATED BOWL
    MARK AND PERIOD OF KANGXI
    Estimate: HK$500,000-700,000
    The lotus scroll motif on this piece is rendered in the subtle anhua technique, or hidden decoration that involved impressing the design into a layer of slip. First developed in the Song period, this technique was mastered in the Kangxi reign, with vessels displaying increasingly thin walls and sophisticated motifs, visible only when light shines through. In his strive to gain the influence and respect needed to rule over the predominantly Han-Chinese elite, the Kangxi Emperor took a keen interest in China’s history and culture and revived industries that had ceased production at the end of the Ming dynasty, which included the production of imperial wares at Jingdezhen. This bowl exemplifies this trend as it clearly references early Ming porcelain through its glaze and decoration.
  • A PAIR OF FAMILLE-ROSE 'BAJIXIANG' BOWLS
    SEAL MARKS AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
    Estimate: HK150,000-250,000
    Bowls of this design were made from the Qianlong (1736-1795) through the Xuantong (1909-1911) reigns.
  • A PAIR OF MING-STYLE BLUE AND WHITE 'LOTUS BOUQUET' SAUCER DISHES
    SEAL MARKS AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG
    Estimate: HK$200,000-300,000
    Dishes of this small size, painted with this elegant motif of a luxuriant lotus bouquet and the well undecorated are more commonly known with Yongzheng mark and of the period. The lotus bouquet, with its beribboned cluster of lotus blooms, leaves and water weeds, first appeared on blue and white porcelain in the Yongle period (1403-1424) and was revived in the early Qing dynasty.
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