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A Henan russet-splashed black glazed conical tea bowl, Northern Song-Jin dynasty (960-1234). Estimate HK$100,000 – HK$150,000 ($12,950 – $19,426). Price Realized HK$137,500 ($17,814). Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2014

The finely potted bowl with widely flared sides is covered on the interior with a lustrous black glaze and decorated with russet splashes. The exterior is applied with a plain black glaze, thinning to a brownish colour near the mouth rim and ending above the exposed buff biscuit foot. 4 3/4 in. (12.4 cm.) diam., Japanese box

Provenance: A Japanese private collection, acquired in the 1990s

Notes: Fine black-glazed wares became increasingly popular during the Song dynasty due to the emergence of tea drinking culture. Tea preparation contests, which were in vogue among the elite class, were judged largely by the quality of the froth that they produced on the surface of the tea and how long it lasted. The pale froth could best be seen against a black ground, which contributed to the rising prominence of black-glazed bowls during the period. Sophisticated black-glazed bowls from northern China are further decorated with various techniques, one of which is to apply iron-oxide russet splashes to the black glaze surface creating attractive contrasts. The russet streaking on the present is particularly well formed, simulating partridge feathers. Compare to two Northern black bowls with partridge-feather markings, also with light grey stoneware bodies, illustrated in Robert D. Mowry, Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers. Chinese Brown- and Black-glazed Ceramics, 400-1400, Cambridge, 1996, pls. 45 a&b.

CHRISTIE’S. DRAWN BY THE SENSES, 26 November 2014, Convention Hall