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Winter Prunus Vase: A Large GU Form Chinese Celadon

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Pottery: Pre 1900: Item # 1054752

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Winter Prunus Vase:  A Large GU Form Chinese Celadon
Ching Dynasty (circa 1850-1890). This tall, unmarked, bold celadon vase, with its wide flaring trumpet-shaped mouth and inverted base, was intended for the display of long branches of winter prunus as indicated by the traditional flowering motif on both sides of its upper section. Its shape derives from an ancient classical Chinese bronze known as a GU, originally a ritualistic wine beaker, but a form which was adapted during the Song Dynasty and widely popular in both China and Japan as a flower vase, a purpose for which it is perhaps more ideally suited: the tall but stable form combined with the widely flaring mouth lends itself to dramatic branch and flower arrangements. The vase itself is elegantly proportioned, the slightly bulbous middle section avoiding vertical monotony and capping the shorter lower register which gives a sense of weighted stability. A very high, recessed and hidden circular inner foot, which is often found on vases of this shape, gives the outer, visible pseudo-footrim a nearly 3/8” rise from a table surface, imparting a somewhat lightening if subtle floating effect. The interior of the vase is glazed about 4” below the mouthrim, the inside revealing a white clay body and distinct coiled construction. Vessels shaped in this manner were usually subsequently turned and smoothed at a wheel and then glazed and fired. In this instance, the prunus decoration in high relief was formed from a molded and finger-shaped clay appliqué. The body is otherwise undecorated except for two incised horizontal double string bands at top and bottom of the middle section which have filled with glaze. Strong and well-balanced form and uncluttered decoration give this sturdy vase a dramatic and monumental feel. Excellent condition. Height: 15-3/8”; Diameter of mouthrim: 7-3/4”; Weight: 6.5 lbs (3kg). Shipping and handling charges apply. Shipping Weight: 12 lbs. Copyright © 2009 by Robert McCaffrey for RuyiStudio San Francisco.


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