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Large Longquan Celadon Bowl with Carved Floral Decor

Diameter: 22.8 cm. (9 in.)
Height: 10 cm. (4 in.)
Early Yuan period
Late 13th-early 14th century

Provenance: a private New York collection

The classic “lotus” bowl has a gently rounded sides, the carved petals on the exterior radiating from the small circular foot. Another dimension of interest is added by way of the two large lotus blossoms on scrolling leaf stems that are freely carved on the interior of the bowl. The luxuriant sweeping lines are done with swift and sure strokes of the cutting tool, breathing life into the image and providing a lovely organic ebb and flow in contrast to the strictly defined order and stability of the exterior petal design.
The glaze is sea-green in color, bright and reflective especially on the exterior and exhibits a clarity through which the interior design is clearly visible. The glaze drains on the thin rim to grey and the small square-cut foot rim burned to a reddish-orange color in the firing. The interior of the foot and base are glazed.

The high quality of the present bowl, the care given such details as the carved lotus petals on the exterior which keep the ceramic in the comfort zone of late Song period taste, the incised design done with expert control while also giving a sense of calligraphic swiftness and ease, and the careful and complete treatment of the foot and base–associate this bowl with what we think of as Song standards of production at the Longquan kilns, inspired by the requirements of the Southern Song court. At the same time the desire to add embellishment and create another level of engagement corresponds with attitudes and approaches current during the Yuan period. This approach is also evident in the upper level (phase 5) of kiln debris excavated at the celadon kilns in Shangyanercun, which stylistically correspond to the early 14th century Sinan shipwreck celadons and the celadons that were exported to the Middle East, while similar ceramic remains have also been found at the Yuan dynasty Longquan Dayao kiln.1

1. For the kiln site material see Kamei Meitoku, “Chronology of Longquan Wares of the Song and Yuan Periods,” in Chuimei Ho, ed., New Light on Chinese Yue and Longquan Wares, Hong Kong, 1994, figs. 15-17, pp. 79-80. For the Longquan celadon lotus bowls with incised interior floral designs in the Topkapi, see Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul: A Complete Catalogue, I: Historical Introductions, Yuan and Ming Dynasty Celadon Wares, London, 1986, pl. 8 (TKS 15/45), p. 243 and pl. 3 (TKS 15/153), p. 241.

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