The Bodhisattva Collection

Blanc de Chine Guanyin, Kangxi, From the Vung Tau Wreck

Blanc de Chine Guanyin, Kangxi, From the Vung Tau Wreck

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Porcelain: Pre 1700: Item # 1008026
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From our Shipwreck Ceramics Collection, a charming blanc de chine Guanyin from the Vung Tau Shipwreck circa 1690-1700 (Kangxi Period), one of only 30 ever recovered from this wreck and in this sense quite rare. The Vung Tau Shipwreck refers to a cargo ship of Chinese ceramics that sank in the waters of the Can Doa Islands, nearby to Vung Tao Vietnam between 1690 and 1700, where it had briefly stopped to re-supply on its way to Batavia (Jakarta Indonesia). The wreck, which consisted mostly of blue and white porcelain and monochromes, was originally discovered by Vietnamese fishermen around 1990. After the ship's contents were successfully excavated by Sverker Hallstrom and his team in 1991, the porcelain was auctioned at Christie's auction house in 1992.

Shipwreck porcelain comes off the sea floor in a wide variety of conditions: Many pieces are utterly destroyed, others cracked and chipped, others whole but encrusted with calcified sea life, and others still survive intact but with their glazes eroded and rendered dull from the seawater. Sometimes pieces actually survive remarkably well, by virtue of random luck regarding where a piece may have been sitting within a stack of porcelain, or from how a piece may have otherwise been sheltered from the elements by other factors like sea mud.

This particular piece exhibits several of the characteristics that often typify shipwreck pieces: Here, the glaze has clearly been dulled from nearly 300 years of immersion in seawater. There are some hairlines to the body that have been sealed, a small hole, and some losses to the piece which include the loss of the small boy that would have been sitting on Guanyin's lap, and the small vase that would have been at her left. Nevertheless, still a very desirable piece with nice presence, solid provenance, and a noteworthy place within the history of Chinese Shipwreck Ceramics. And perhaps most rewarding about this piece, is the presence of that unmistakable hallmark of genuine shipwreck pieces, namely, sea life encrustations in the interior of the piece, which on this example includes two seashells !! These can clearly be seen from the photos of the underside of the base.

Size: 5 1/2 inches tall, 2 1/2 inches wide. Old and worn Christie's auction label on the reverse.