Guide to Chinese Art
Notes on the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty (618 - 907)
Many Historians consider the Tang dynasty second only to the Han in importance. In the first half of the dynasty the empire expanded and China had one of its great artistic periods. The Tang pushed beyond the Tarim Basin into Turkestan and occupied the Ferghana Valley. We can see the influence of this expansion in the funeral statuary of the Tang circa 700. Camels, Central Asians and Jewish peddlers are among the art found in the tombs of the Tang. This artistic expansion and Imperial expansion extended until 751 AD when the Chinese lost to Arab Moslems at the Battle of Talas. This was a crucial battle because it caused the Chinese to pull back from their westward advance. The loss of the outermost provinces weakened the Tang emperor Xuanzong. This brought on the Rebellion of An Lu-shan which brought the Chinese borders back to the Great Wall and caused a gradual decline of Imperial power that lasted for 150 years. Even though the Arabs never pushed into the Tarim Basin the vacuum of power allowed the establishment of an Uigher Khanate in the Tarim Basin and a series of Persian and Turkish kingdoms to emerge in Turkestan.
Dragon Box Blue and White Longqing Period
A BLUE AND WHITE DOUBLE LOZENGE-SHAPED 'DRAGON' BOX AND COVER
MARK AND PERIOD OF LONGQING
Length 19cm. 7 1/2 in., height 7.5cm. 3in.
painted in underglaze-blue with two five-clawed dragons opposing a flaming pearl amongst cloud scrolls, within a slightly raised double blue line band, below a broad band of insects amongst flowers and foliage and narrow raised border of scrollwork to the rim, the base similarly decorated
Dragon Stem Cup Blue and White Ming Dynasty
AN EXTREMELY RARE BLUE AND WHITE 'DRAGON' STEMCUP
MARK AND PERIOD OF XUANDE
Diameter 10.2cm. 4in.
the shallow rounded bowl with finely potted sides gently curving to a flared rim, supported on a high splayed foot, decorated with five dragons reserved in white, writhing against a raging torrent intricately picked out in varying shades of underglaze-blue, the five-clawed dragons with delicately incised scaly bodies and underglaze-blue dots delineating their eyes, the six-character mark inscribed in the centre of the bowl within a double circle.
Dragon Vase Pear Shaped Blue and White Yuan Dynasty
A BLUE AND WHITE PEAR-SHAPED DRAGON VASE, (YUHUCHUN PING)
28.5cm. 11 1/4 in.
Of pear-shaped form with a slender neck and trumpet mouth, supported on a short flared foot, painted in greyish tones of underglaze-blue with a long scaly dragon writhing amidst cloud scroll, all above and below a band of lappets, the neck painted with stiff upright leaves, the interior of the rim with a collar of classic scroll.
Peony and Bird Vase Blue and White Yuan Dynasty
A VERY RARE BLUE AND WHITE 'FLOWER AND BIRD' VASE
42 cm. 16 1/2 in.
of meiping form, the tall body supported on a slightly flared foot elegantly rising to broad shoulders rounding to a waisted neck and an everted lipped rim, the exterior intricately painted in a warm greyish cobalt-blue with a broad band of peony flower-heads emitting long undulating leafy stems, a collar of cash diaper and a band of four ruyi-heads at the shoulders, each ruyi enclosing a different bird soaring amidst a distinct spray of flowers including peony and chrysanthemum, all below a band of lotus florets at the neck, and above a narrow border of diamond-diaper and wide lappet border at the foot
Note: The Yuan Dynasty was the Mongol Dynasty from 1279-1368 A.D.
Birds and Butterflies Embroidered Cantonese Coverlet
A large and fine embroidered Cantonese coverlet, mid-19th century, the ivory satin ground superbly embroidered with exotic birds and butterflies, peonies and bamboo in delicate pastel silks, lined in yellow silk, deep knotted fringe, 275 by 204cm, 108 by 80in,
Chinese embroidered Dragon Mangao robe
An embroidered mangao robe, Chinese circa 1900, the brick red satin ground embroidered with coiling gilt thread dragons, pagodas and auspicious symbols, edged in plain blue satin and lined in plain green silk.
Cinnabar Lacquer Dish Yuan Dynasty
A RARE CINNABAR LACQUER DISH
13 1/2 in., 34.3 cm
of shallow circular form resting on a short footring, the interior finely and deeply carved through the red lacquer with a pair of confronting songbirds with elegant outstretched wings and long tail plumage curling to conform to the shape of the dish, gently incised with delicate lines to depict their feathery bodies, amidst a dense profusion of musk mallow flowers and leaves, the details picked out and carved in varying levels of depth to give a three-dimensional effect, all bound within a thick rim, the underside of the rim encircled by a guri scroll carved through to reveal alternating layers of black lacquer, the base lacquered black, Japanese wood box.
Long Pao Dragon Chinese Imperial Court Robe or Jifuy
A rare Imperial court robe or jifu, Chinese, circa 1900, the primrose yellow satin ground finely embroidered with the twelve symbols of Imperial authority, couched gold thread long pao dragons, fuchsia-pink bats amidst blue cloud scrolls above a turbulent sea scattered with large pink peonies, the foaming waves carrying auspicious objects and leaping carp, edged in deep purple satin embroidered with dragons, couched gilt striped bands to the black satin sleeves, lined in plain turquoise blue silk.
Ming Dais Cover
This is an outstanding piece and one of the gems of the Swan Collection. First of all there is a question about use. Wendel says that it was used as a cover or cushion. At 3ft. 9in. by 3ft. 8in. it is large for a cushion and I have always suspected that it was a dais cover. The structure is very unusual as well, it is half pulled right and half pulled left bifurcating upon its central axis. At only 25 kpsi it achieves a remarkably curvilinear design through the use of both shared warps and knot packing. The warps are silk and there is silk thread and wear lines where it was attached to something. It is the wear lines that frame the piece in theater border that make me think that it was a dais cover. Sadly Sotheby's images fail to convey the rich gold tons of the field but I will note that the catalog is closer than the on-line images.
Please note the wear mark at the midpoint of the outer border. This rug was stretched over something, stitched in place and then fold wear occurred.
There are still traces of silk thread where this rug was attached. The resultant wear lines are demonstrative of more than use as a simple rug or cover
Approximately 3ft. 9in. by 3ft. 8in. (1.14 by 1.12m.)
Moth damage, minor losses to ends, oxidized browns,
Warp: silk, Z2S, natural ivory
Weft: cotton, Z spun, 2 shoots of bunches of 3 and 4 wefts, white
Pile: wool, asymmetric knot open to the left; some 2-colored packing knots
Density: 5 horizontal, 5 vertical
Sides: single cord wrapped in white cotton
Ends: remnants of cotton flatweave, fraying
Colors: camel, beige, deep blue, mid-blue, light blue, yellow, ivory, walnut
Porcelain Jar Blue and White Yuan Dynasty
AN EXTREMELY RARE AND IMPORTANT BLUE AND WHITE JAR, GUAN
17.2cm. 6 3/4 in.
well potted with straight tapered sides rising to a high angular shoulder below a short cylindrical neck with slightly raised mouth rim, vividly painted in a deep and vibrant shades of cobalt blue around the body with a wide composite floral scroll above a cash diaper band within double lines and a band of upright lappets around the base, and below a band of pendant lappets containing the bajixiang around the shoulder, between double lines, and a classic wave band at the neck
Scrolling Peonies Jar Blue and White Yuan Dynasty
A MAGNIFICENT EARLY BLUE AND WHITE BALUSTER JAR (GUAN)
YUAN DYNASTY, MID-14TH CENTURY
Diameter 13 3/8 in., 34 cm.
superbly potted and fired with outstanding glaze, the wide-shouldered baluster body tapering to the foot, boldly and confidently painted in a spacious and dynamic composition of masterful balance in carefully controlled cobalt-blue with a broad band of six scrolling peonies seen from the front, the side and the back, each bloom finely articulated with petals and leaves lightly incised to allow for subtle veining, the lobed-tipped petals clustered in 'yin-yang' form at the centers and the one seen from the back revealing the six-lobed calyx, all borne on a continuous undulating leafy stem with attendant offshoot buds, above a narrow register of classic scroll, the shoulders encircled by a lotus meander border exhibiting three types of lotus blooms, two formalized including stamens of projecting trefoil barbs and one open bloom with 'yin-yang' rosette, borne on a single undulating stem nearing stylized barbed and lobed leaves, all between a vigorously painted band of tumbling waves collaring the short upright neck with rolled lip and large upright lappets enclosing cloud-like trefoils and ring motifs skirting the foot, the different registers of the decoration separated by double-line borders, the cobalt-blue of intensely vibrant purple-blue tone with pronounced 'heaping and piling' effect accentuating the painterly brushstrokes against the faintly bluish white glaze, the base left unglazed to reveal the fine porcelain body with remnant traces of glaze caught against the knife-cut grooves of the foot and the slightly countersunk center