It was identified by the Southern Song that the extreme quality of the Imperial Ru ware was due to the incorporation of agate powder into the glaze. The exploration of the kiln site discovered in Henan province in 1986 showed that they were made beside a mass production in ordinary porcelain.
The techniques applied to hold the pieces during heating and cooling were rudimentary, resulting in a very low yield correlated with the excavation of many fragments on the site.
It is possible that the Imperial Ru was essentially experimental, and applied to most shapes produced at the same place in the other techniques. Because of its top quality, the Southern Song could not do otherwise than qualifying it as 'imperial' and the Qing experts followed.
A sky blue tea bowl 10.2 cm in diameter and 5.2 cm in height surfaced in 2015. Its provenance from Japanese collections is indisputable and precedes for several decades the location of the kiln site. It had been broken, probably in the first part of the twentieth century, and repaired according to a traditional Japanese method including a filling of the gaps by a lacquer mixed with gold powder. It is considered complete.
This piece brings together two of the rarest features in its class.
The extreme scarcity of Imperial Ru bowls had already been highlighted by the Qianlong emperor. A slightly chipped example of identical shape and dimensions but in another color had been found on the kiln site.
Its sky blue color is unique among complete pieces but is also found on some excavated fragments. Highly appreciated in graphic arts by the Northern Song, this color was an attempt by the Ru potters to escape the traditional celadon.
This bowl will be sold by Christie's in Hong Kong on November 26, lot 8006.
SOLD for HK$ 56M including premium