A carved ‘Ding’ ‘Lotus’ bowl, Northern Song Dynasty. Photo Sotheby’s
the gently curved lobes rising to a slightly indented and everted rim, the interior finely and freely carved and combed with a medallion of a leafy lotus spray, the sides cleanly divided by six narrow fillets of slip each enclosing a single spray of flowering lotus, covered overall with a clear ivory glaze pooling in characteristic tear-drops down the exterior, all raised on a narrow tapered foot, the rim metal mounted, Japanese wood box. Diameter 8 3/8 in., 21.5 cm. Estimation 400,000 — 500,000 USD
The present bowl represents the superb stylistic achievements of the Ding potters and is notable for the naturalistic depiction of the lotus sprays, with the leaves curled and turned in different directions. This style of rendering is only found on a small number of other fine Ding pieces, such as a slightly larger bowl of this form and design, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum’s exhibition Decorated Porcelains of Dingzhou. White Ding Wares from the Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2014, cat. no. II-39, together with another carved with flower and fruit sprays, cat. no. II-40; and a fragment of a similar Song bowl, that forms part of the National Palace’s vast shard collection including Ding shards recovered from the kiln sites at Jiancicun and Yangchuancun in Quyang County, Hebei, published in Gugong Bowuguan can Zhongguo gudai yaozhi biaoben. Hebei juan [Specimens from China’s ancient kilns preserved in the Palace Museum: Hebei, vol. 2], Beijing, 2006, pl. 169 (top).
Ding wares are ranked amongst the ‘Five Famous Wares of the Song Dynasty’, a term coined by collectors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Celebrated for their thin potting, fine white body, which does not require a slip to appear white after firing, and an ivory-colored glaze which tends to run down in somewhat darker ‘tears’, Ding wares became renowned for their elegant forms that often derived from contemporaneous silver and lacquer vessels to find favor with the court and wealthy monasteries during the Song and Jin periods.
Another characteristic of Ding ware is the use of metal to bind the rim. The contrasting color of the distinctive bronze, copper, and sometimes precious metal, rims enhanced the aesthetic beauty of the wares while setting the Ding ware apart from the ordinary. Ts’ai Mei-fen of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, suggests that the metal-banded rim was the popular taste of the time, possibly instituted because of the popular practices of decorating edges. See Ts’ai Mei-fen, ‘A Discussion of Ting Ware with Unglazed Rims and related Twentieth-Century Official Porcelain’, Arts of the Sung and Yuan, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996, pp. 109-31.
Compare a bowl of this type similarly carved with peony sprays included in the exhibition White Porcelain of Ding Yao, Nezu Institute of Fine Arts, Tokyo, 1983, cat. no. 132; and another decorated with floral blooms, published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum – Porcelain of the Song Dynasty (I), Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 45, together with a bowl depicting ducks and lotuses in alternating panels around the sides, pl. 61. A further duck and lotus-carved bowl, from the Carl Kempe collection, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics. The World’s Great Collections, vol. 8, Tokyo, 1982, pl. 108, was sold in our London rooms, 14th May 2008, lot 258.
Sotheby’s. Chinese Art through the Eye of Sakamoto Gor: Song Ceramics, New York | 16 sept. 2014, 10:00 AM