A very rare Chinese carved celadon-glazed porcelain “萬”-Mouthed Vase 珍罕粉青釉萬字口大瓶 Qianlong six-character seal mark in low relief and of the period 乾隆六字款
A very rare Chinese carved celadon-glazed porcelain “萬”-Mouthed Vase 珍罕粉青釉萬字口大瓶 Qianlong six-character seal mark in low relief and of the period 乾隆六字款:
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Of square section, with swelling body over slightly flared foot, slightly indented sloped shoulder, transitioning into the shaped, slightly waisted neck with slightly everted lip, the lip of swastika or “萬” (wan form), the body with a main band carved in low relief with archaistic scrolls incorporating kui-dragon heads and lotus scrolls, above a stylized lapet band at the foot, the shoulder with similar shorter lappet-band border below a kui-dragon scroll border, each side of the neck with a panel of mirrored kui-dragon scrolls, covered overall with a soft, pale blue-green glaze pooling to a darker tone, the lip gilt, underside with six-character seal mark in low relief within an indented square.
(H: 16 1/4 in.)
Acquired in Europe in the 1970s by the grandfather of the present owner, said to have come from the collection of Robert de Stryker
Thence by descent
The present vase appears to relate to a select group of Imperial celadon-glazed wares, often associated with production in the Imperial kilns under the supervision of Tang Ying (1682-1756). These wares are notable for their high quality and variety of creative form and decoration. This particular subgroup of celadon-glazed wares, with decoration carved or molded in low relief, exhibit this variety of form and decoration. These often appear to be inspired by archaic wares, particularly ancient bronzes, but also the wares of the early Ming dynasty. This is evident not only in terms of form, but also in the use of decoration such as archaistic kui-dragon scrolls (angular or more organically foliate in nature), or dense lotus scrolls and lappets, in addition to the incorporation of later auspicious motifs such as Buddhist or Daoist symbols or homophonic symbols such as bats or ruyi scepters.
To date, another example of this technically difficult form has not been located. Other Qianlong mark and period celadon-glazed vases decorated with carved or molded archaistic kui-dragon scrolls are known, but none with this highly unusual “萬” (wan)-shaped or swastika-form mouth. “萬” translates as “10,000”, signifying unlimited abundance or longevity, an auspicious motif, particularly suitable for a birthday celebration or similar important event. For an elaborate celadon-glazed vase with swastika-ornamented ribbons at the shoulders, with Qianlong seal mark in relief, see “Qing Imperial Monochromes the Zande Lou Collection”, Shenzhen, 2005, pp. 120-121, no 43.
For a pair of Qianlong mark and period celadon-glazed vases with lip in the form of an “Endless Knot” in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, see “Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of K’ang-hsi, Yung-Cheng and Ch’ien-lung Porcelain ware from the Ch’ing Dynasty in the National Palace Museum”, Taipei, 1993, p. 128, no 101 (one illustrated).
The decoration of these graceful lobed vases, incorporating bats and ruyi-heads is of the more curvilinear stylized manner, is similar to that found on the Qianlong mark and period vase sold at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, April 8, 2007, lot 708. For other examples incorporating angular kui-dragon scrolls, see the archaistic flask-form vase sold at Christie’s, New York, March 28, 2006, lot 116, decorated with elaborate mirrored bands of kui-dragon scrolls to the neck, body and foot. For other examples of celadon-glazed vases with angular kui-dragon scrollwork in low relief, see the vases sold at Christie’s, New York, March 20, 2014, lot 2181; Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, April 8, 2009, lot 1652, and two similar bottle vases, sold Christie’s, Hong Kong, April 8, 2011, lot 3018 and Christie’s, New York, March 22, 2018, lot 771.
Generally overall good condition, small glaze pit on edge of one flange to neck, a small iron brown spot under lip above pit, another small glaze pit under the lip, two small faint greyish patches to glaze below shoulder on one side, scattered minor scratches and moderate surface wear, yellowish residue to the interior of footring, minor wear to the gilding, particularly at the extremities, soiling to interior of vase, slight glaze irregularity to interior of neck, felt glued to the underside of footring, slight abrasions to the edge of glaze at footring with very minor discoloration, scattered minor glaze pits edge of foot, nearly invisible.