50 Years New in Asia

A superb and exceptionally rare blue and white 'floral' moon flask, Ming dynasty, Yongle period


This flask ranks among the most exceptional and finest Chinese porcelains ever made and is a remarkable testament to the outward-looking policy of the Yongle Emperor in the early 15th century, when the Emperor developed ties to many countries as far west as East Africa, which brought out an unprecedented exchange of ideas and aesthetic concepts. Modelled after a Middle Eastern metalwork prototype, this extremely rare moon-shaped vessel is superbly decorated on each side with a single flowering stem scrolling in a full circle while rhythmically bearing blooms and leaves, all beneath a most lustrous transparent glaze. The leaf-scroll motifs, also known as arabesques, are an iconic Middle Eastern decorative feature often found in Islamic art. The flask appears to be the only one in private hands and the Palace Museum, Beijing holds the only companion piece. Discovered in west Yorkshire in the 1980s, the flask has been kept in the renowned Tianminlou collection for nearly 40 years.

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