Objects are exchanged. The potters in Jingdezhen add to their know-how the creation of shapes and styles previously unknown in China. Since the Song, porcelain is used in the imperial court for vessels, chargers, plates or flower vases. Unusable objects are extremely rare.
The Mamluks used brass tray stands, built in two truncated cones in opposition around a cylindrical cavity. A horizontal rib at half height allows a better handling. The flat top and bottom are identical at both ends of the cylinder.
This form, comparable to lacquered stands for tea bowls, is however too high and too narrow. Its ceramic reproduction is useless because it cannot offer the steadiness of Mamluk pieces in heavy metal.
Three centuries later, the Qianlong emperor considers a porcelain stand. The quality of workmanship and the very fine decoration imitating Arabic patterns and script indicate that it was produced at the beginning of the Ming period.
A 17 cm high stand almost identical to the piece in the imperial collection is estimated HK $ 20M for sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 3, lot 102. It is supposed to be from Yongle time when the imperial mark was still often omitted. Similar fragments were found in the Yongle and Xuande strata of the Jingdezhen rubble.
The long inspection poem prepared by Qianlong is translated in Sotheby's catalog.
The most learned of the emperors is so much astonished at the uselessness of this item that he devotes a poem to it despite the absence of an imperial mark. He attributes it reasonably to the Xuande period and inscribes that name on the zitan stand which he commissions for it.
The Son of Heaven is the holder of the continuity of the Chinese dynasties. He does not authorize himself to criticize his Ming predecessor who let made this crazy vase that does not hold water. He opportunely finds an antique fable in which the leak of water from a bottomless goblet is compared to the loss of a good word.
SOLD for HK$ 23.6M including premium