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明代筆記 vol.3 明成化青花夔龍紋盌 736.6萬成交 《大明成化年製》款 - An exceptionally rare blue and white 'kui-dragon' bowl, Mark and period of Chenghua.




Property from an Important Private Collection

An exceptionally rare blue and white 'kui-dragon' bowl,

Mark and period of Chenghua

顯赫私人收藏

明成化 青花夔龍紋盌 《大明成化年製》款


Estimate

8,000,000 - 12,000,000 HKD Lot Sold

7,366,000 HKD


Japanese wood box

16.8 cm


Condition Report

In overall good condition, with the mouthrim slightly and evenly polished; there is a curved superficial firing mark to the glaze at the interior of the bowl (approx. 8cm); some expected minor surface wear.


整體品相良好。口沿輕磨,盌心釉面見一處約8公分弧形劃痕(或為窰傷)。器面輕微磨痕,屬正常。

April 9, 03:30 PM HKT

Estimate

8,000,000 - 12,000,000 HKD





瓷上丹青成窰雅絕


龍,乃神話動物,畫家可自由詮釋其貌,但在中國,龍之姿態樣貌,卻是已有定論。龍紋多樣,不同品種間彼此特徵相異,此處龍紋,僅雙足,龍身較小,尾部蜷曲,稱「夔」,或「香草」龍。夔龍與藏傳佛教相關,常作於佛教建築或法器。原型可溯及印度「摩羯魚」,屬水中守護神,多見於建築之裝飾元素,或用以守護大門。在西藏,摩羯魚已成為拱形建築之要素,由印度「托拉那」門演變而來,用以作為平面或立體的佛造像之框架。


元代,藏傳佛教造像的影響力漸強,此類飾有成對摩羯魚的拱形框飾,開始出現在中國的佛教建築。萬里長城居庸關的雲台,即為一例,雲台原為三座藏式佛塔之座,建於1345年,台身滿刻藏傳佛教圖像與經文。拱形券門周沿浮雕元明經典紋飾:拱頂正中間為大鵬金翅鳥,二側飛天,肩部各飾摩羯魚,魚尾蜷曲,及各式神獸依序層疊而上。

成化皇帝虔信佛教(道教亦同),朝廷佛教儀典上,甚至著僧服禮拜。成化二年,於北京報國寺舊址建造慈仁寺,由太后弟弟為住持,建寺時立「御製大慈仁寺碑」紀念,述明成化皇帝對於造寺之用心。


成化朝另一處更為重要之佛寺建築為「真覺寺」,造於1473年,又稱「五塔寺」,整體為藏式,築五佛塔於方形底座上,寺院主要入口類似上述居庸關雲台拱門造形與紋飾構圖,二側上緣浮雕摩羯魚式的夔龍紋。


據房兆楹,「明代成化與萬曆時期所造與修建的佛寺數量,冠明代之最」(富路特及房兆楹,《明代名人傳》,紐約與倫敦,1976年,卷1,頁303)。佛教圖像,如八寶、十字金剛杵、藏文銘文等,可見於成化官窰瓷器,尤以晚期為多。但如同本品紋飾的夔龍口吐青蓮者,極為少見。根據明代御窰遺址出土成化地層分析,劉新源推論,「宗教紋飾瓷器多製於成化17年(1481年)或以後,當時朝廷大興宗教活動。」(《成窰遺珍:景德鎮珠山出土成化官窰瓷器》,徐氏藝術館,香港,1993年,頁29中文、70英文)。


此件夔龍紋盌,雙方框年款,亦屬成化晚期。成化一朝造瓷,可約略分為三個時期,晚期風格成熟,且品質最高。此類雙方框款,可見於多數最精美的成化官瓷,尤其是鬪彩瓷,約仿宋汝或官窰。


現存品相完整知類例僅二,其一藏於台北故宮博物院,刊載於《成化瓷器特展圖錄》,故宮博物院,台北,2003年,編號18;另一例為上海博物館藏品,出版於陸明華,《上海博物館珍品研究大系:明代官窰瓷器》,上海,2007年,編號3-60。景德鎮明代御窰遺址出土殘片修復一器,錄於《明代成化御窰瓷器》,前述出處,卷1,編號56;並參考朱湯生,〈Towards a Catalogue Raisonné of Chenghua Porcelain〉,康蕊君編,《The Emperor’s broken china. Reconstructing Chenghua porcelain》,倫敦,1995年,頁118,記錄此紋飾,編號B10。


陸明華針對上海博物館藏品的討論中(前述出處,頁137),提及此繪畫風格之精湛,以極細筆觸勾勒輪廓,再填入濃淡青花,層次豐富,更將青花瓷繪畫提升至新高,陸氏述此為「分水」,意指將青料以水稀釋,得濃淡不同的青料水,繪至瓷上可燒得深淺不同之青花色調,不同於以墨,或鈷青,單色繪之,僅依靠下筆先後之濃淡變化,此處青花紋飾已融入多樣調色法。


比較當朝其他夔龍紋無款瓷器,成化御窰夔龍紋盌精美細緻,豔冠群芳:北京故宮博物院藏一盤,外壁繪夔龍紋,筆法較粗略,無款,還有一例出土於景德鎮明代御窰遺址,二者盤心皆繪十字金剛杵紋,斷為成化朝,載於《明代成化御窰瓷器:景德鎮御窰遺址出土與故宮博物院藏傳世瓷器對比》,北京,2016年,卷1,編號25、45;其他夔龍紋變形,如以掌代爪,畫工亦不如本品精妙,可見於北京故宮博物院藏一高足盌盌心及外壁,無款且斷為成化朝,同上,編號82。


瓷上夔龍紋,永樂窰已得見,如2022年4月29日香港蘇富比,編號5,劉鑾雄珍藏一件永樂青花罐,另一件宣德窰並書年款者,2017年10月2日售於香港蘇富比,編號101。上述二例,夔龍羽翼更加明顯,本品紋飾則簡化成小卷羽,宣德例作足掌。宣窰與空白期的夔龍紋羽翼醒目,魚尾帶鱗,常與其他珍奇海獸相伴,海馬、海象、海兔、蛟魚等,稱之海獸,因其雖有翼,卻穿梭海水波浪間,與本品之優雅夔龍紋甚異。


Elegance of Chenghua Imperial Porcelain Painting

Dragons, as mythical animals, leave artists in theory total freedom of interpretation, but in China, their physique has always been quite strictly defined. The various species that exist, are clearly differentiated and the present creatures, with only two legs, a small body and a dramatic scrolling tail, are kui (or xiangcao, ‘sweet grass’) dragons. Kui are the dragons associated with Tibetan Buddhist contexts and are depicted in Buddhist architecture and on objects used in Buddhist ceremonies. They have developed from the Indian makara, a water-guardian spirit used particularly as an architectural element to protect gateways. In Tibet, makaras formed an integral part of arch-like structures – derived from the Indian torana gateways – that were used to frame Buddhist figures both in three- and two-dimensional images.


As Tibetan Buddhist iconography became influential in the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), such gateways incorporating a pair of makaras were in China adopted for religious buildings. An early example is the Cloud Terrace on the Juyongguan mountain pass of the Great Wall, outside Beijing. This platform, which originally supported three white dagobas and was completed in 1345, is carved with Tibetan Buddhist imagery and inscribed with sutra texts. The arch-shaped reliefs around its passageway show the classic composition that is also seen in the Ming period: a garuda between two spirit figures, or apsaras, at the top, a pair of makaras with curling tails at the shoulders, and a sequence of animals, placed above each other, along the jambs of the arch.


The Chenghua Emperor was a fervent sponsor of Buddhist (as well as Daoist) causes, who himself dressed as a monk during Buddhist ceremonies held at court. In the second year of his reign, he agreed to have a new temple built, Cirensi, at the site of the Baoguosi in Beijing, where his mother’s younger brother (or cousin, according to some reports) had been made abbot. A commemorative text that the Emperor wrote on the construction of this temple, preserved on a stone stele that still stands in the temple grounds, attests to his personal attention to this project.


Another, more important temple structure erected under the Chenghua Emperor, in 1473, is the Zhenjuesi (‘Temple of True Awakening’), better known as Wutasi (‘Five Pagoda Temple’), built in the Tibetan style with five pagodas on top of a cubical base. The main entrance to the building is surrounded by an arch of the same composition as that on Juyongguan, with two makaradragons on either side at the top.


According to Fang Chaoying, “More Buddhist temples seem to have been built or rebuilt in Peking during the Ch’eng-hua and Wan-li reigns than in other periods of the Ming dynasty.” (L. Carrington Goodrich and Chaoying Fang, eds, Dictionary of Ming Biography 1368 – 1644, New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1976, vol. 1, p. 303). Buddhist motifs such as the Eight Buddhist Emblems, double Vajra and inscriptions in the Tibetan script, are well known on Chenghua imperial porcelains and their appearance seems to have increased in the later years of the reign, but this makara-style dragon with a lotus spray in its mouth was very rarely depicted. Liu Xinyuan, who excavated the Chenghua remains at the imperial kiln site, suggested that “objects decorated with religious motifs were made in and after the 17th year of the Chenghua reign (1481), when the court was consumed with religious activities” (A Legacy of Chenghua: Imperial Porcelain of the Chenghua Reign Excavated from Zhushan, Jingdezhen, Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1993, p. 29 Chinese, p. 70 English).


A date in the later years of the Chenghua period is also suggested by this bowl’s square reign mark. The porcelain production of the Chenghua reign can be divided into three periods, of which the last is characterized by the most mature style of decoration and the highest quality, by far. The square reign mark is found on the most exquisite Chenghua pieces, particularly on doucai porcelains and copies of Song Ru and guan wares.


Only two complete companion pieces to the present bowl appear to be recorded, one in the Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Chenghua ciqi tezhan tulu/Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Ch’eng-hua Porcelain Ware, 1465-1487, Palace Museum, Taipei, 2003, no. 18; the other in the Shanghai Museum, published in Lu Minghua, Shanghai Bowuguan zangpin yanjiu daxi/Studies of the Shanghai Museum Collections : A Series of Monographs. Mingdai guanyao ciqi [Ming imperial porcelain], Shanghai, 2007, no. 3-60. A partially preserved bowl, reconstructed from sherds recovered from the waste heaps of the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen, is illustrated in Mingdai Chenghua yuyao ciqi, op.cit., vol. 1, no. 56; see also Julian Thompson, ‘Towards a Catalogue Raisonné of Chenghua Porcelain’, in Regina Krahl, ed., The Emperor’s broken china. Reconstructing Chenghua porcelain, London, 1995, p. 118, where this pattern is recorded as B10.


In his discussion of the Shanghai companion bowl, Lu Minghua (op.cit., p. 137) has remarked upon the exquisite painting manner here adopted. With outlines drawn with a very fine brush, and filled in with a wide range of different tones of cobalt blue, the painting manner achieves a new level of excellence. Lu characterizes this painting style with the term fenshui, which can perhaps be translated as ‘diluting with water’, and describes washes of different, carefully distinguished cobalt-blue tints, created by mixing the pigment with different amounts of water. Rather than being due to the haphazard variation in tone that occurs naturally when painting in ink – or here cobalt – of only one tone, several different pigment solutions were here methodically employed.


How these Chenghua imperial pieces, inscribed with the reign mark, stand out in quality becomes very clear when comparing them with roughly contemporary porcelains with kuidragons, but unmarked: Related, but much less carefully painted kui dragons appear on the outside of an unmarked dish in the Palace Museum, Beijing, as well as on a fragmentary counterpart excavated at Jingdezhen, both decorated with a double Vajra in the centre and attributed to the Chenghua reign, illustrated in Mingdai Chenghua yuyao ciqi. Jingdezhen yuyao yizhi chutu yu Gugong Bowuyuan cang chuanshi ciqi duibi /Imperial Porcelains from the Reign of Chenghua in the Ming Dynasty. A Comparison of Porcelains from the Imperial Kiln Site at Jingdezhen and the Imperial Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2016, vol. 1, nos 25 and 45; another variant of the kui dragon, with paws instead of claws, also not comparable in its painting style, appears in the centre and around the outside of a stem bowl in the Palace Museum, Beijing, also unmarked and attributed to the Chenghua reign, ibid., no. 82.


On porcelain, kui dragons are known at least since the Yongle period, as seen on a large jar sold in these rooms, 29th April 2022, lot 5, from the collection of Joseph Lau, and on another, of Xuande mark and period, sold 2nd October 2017, lot 101. In both cases, the dragons have more distinctive wings – which on the present bowl are reduced to small curls – and the Xuande version comes with paws. Kui dragons with prominent wings and scaly fish tails appear quite frequently on Xuande and Interregnum period porcelains, where they are often included among groups of fanciful sea creatures, which include winged horses, elephants, hares and fish, so called because they are depicted among waves, in spite of their wings. They are all very different from the elegant creatures depicted on the present bowl.


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