Highlights from our November 2022 auction were led by impressive jade examples, beautifully crafted metalware and fabrics, as well as ceramics, works of art and paintings from across Asia. Included within the sale are also three impressive private Scottish collections featuring ceramics, bronze vessels and other metalwares. Here, we have selected a few pieces to highlight the fine craftsmanship of the works that were offered in our November 2022 auction...
This silk bag, originally purchased in 1998 as a Qarakhanid silk bag, Inner Asia, 12th-13th century, later exhibited in the Arts from the Land of Timur exhibition in 2012 and catalogued as a Semirechye piece, has been suggested by several Asian art specialists to be a Liao dynasty textile after the exhibition.
Roughly a thousand years old, this fine silk bag is a rare survivor and a testimony to the extensive trade network passing through Central Asia during the eleventh/twelfth century. The quality of the silk and craftsmanship itself, largely lost today, further bears witness to the importance of the silk-route from China.
The name Ding Liangxian appears on a number of prints from Suzhou, Jinchang district. It refers either to a print workshop or the ingenious artist himself. They specialised in subject matters such as flowers, fruits and birds.
Although rare in the market, the prints presented in this lot can be compared to highly similar examples in the collection of the British Museum. For the 'arbutus and praying mantis', dated to the Qing dynasty, c.1735-c.1750, see museum no. 1906,1128,0.14. A related example, depicting pomegranates and praying mantis, offered at Sungari Beijing, 6-7 June 2019, lot 8664; For the 'pomegranate, magnolia and bird', similarly dated, see British Museum no. 1906,1128,0.6; For a similar example of the 'Antiquities', compare to museum no. 1906,1128,0.22. Other related examples, similarly depicting an arrangement of antiquities in different fashions, see museum nos. 1906,1128,0.24; 1906,1128,0.23 and 1906,1128,0.25.
The last print in this lot depicts the first three months of the ballad Song of the Twelve Months in the Tune of the Tea Picker’s Song. It consists of three scenes from top to bottom, featuring ballads for January, February, and March according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Compare to a related example depicting ballads for October, November and December, see British Museum no. 1991,1015,0.1. According to the curator's comments, which potentially could apply to the print in this lot, 'this print incorporates scenes from three popular dramas, turning each of them into a ballad. By illustrating and combining popular folk songs with scenes of dramas of the time, Ding Liangxian created a new type of woodblock print for urban audiences.'
Mr Zhai Xiaoxiang is one of eight Senior Masters currently working in Jingdezhen and the only one still painting in the traditional Imperial style. He was born in 1944 in Poyang county, Jiangxi Province. In 1955, he won a scholarship to the Art and Ceramics Training School, attached to the Art Porcelain Factory of Jingdezhen. During his time at the School he quickly earned a reputation for his excellent bird and flower painting. In 1975, he was invited by the Palace Museum, Beijing, to reproduce a copy, a porcelain, of a famous Kangxi Imperial cloisonne vase. The perfect work earned him not only the admiration of the museum and the industry in Jingdezhen but also a gold medal award from the President of the Chinese Republic. He is now a Consultant at the Jingdezhen Art College and the Deputy Director of the Jingdezhen Ceramic Research Institute, and his works are passionately collected in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan with a waiting list for his latest masterpieces.
A comparable vase with overglaze decoration of birds on a rock was painted by Zhia Xiaoxiang himself and given to V&A during the Olympia Fine Art and Antique Fair in February 1997, accession number FE.66-1997