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An extremely rare early Ming blue and white jar, guan, Yongle period (1403-1425). Estimate HK$2,000,000 – HK$3,000,000 ($260,000 – $390,000). Price Realized HK$2,200,000 ($284,909). Photo Christie’s Ltd 2014

The exterior of the jar is delicately painted in underglaze-blue with the ‘heaping and piling’ effect, depicting a continuous garden scene with leafy flowering branches of chrysanthemum and morning glory, beside rocks and millet sprays. 5 1/8 in. (13 cm.) wide

Provenance: Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 29 April 1997, lot 532

Notes: Blue and white jars of this design from the early 15th century are extremely rare, and only very few related examples have been published to date. Compare to another early 15th century example of similar design from the collection of Mrs. Alfred Clark, now in the British Museum, illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, The World’s Great Collections, vol. 5, 1981, pl. 38. Another comparable example was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 29 September 1992, lot 471. No excavated example appears to have been found from the Yongle and Xuande strata at the Jingdezhen Imperial kilns so far, suggesting that only very few jars of this rare type were produced at the time.

It appears that this select group of early Ming jars became the prototype of much revered blue and white jars from the later Chenghua period, potted to similar forms and painted similarly with composite flowers but in a paler blue with less ‘heaping and piling’ which is characteristic of cobalt used during the period. One such example was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 May 2006, lot 1387.