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    Description

    An Important Chinese Tobi Seiji-Decorated and Molded Longquan Celadon Dragon and Peonies Covered Box, Yuan Dynasty, 14th century
    3-3/8 inches high x 4-3/4 inches diameter (8.6 x 12.1 cm)

    PROVENANCE:
    Collection of a German Consular Officer in China (1902-1917 and 1920-1930);
    Thence by descent.


    The term tobi seiji is a Japanese term meaning "flying celadon" and refers to wares made around the Longquan kilns in the Zhejiang province of China during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). The nomenclature of "Longquan" to Chinese ceramics is not applied in reference to a specific kiln site, rather it derives from the name of the market town where these ceramics were offered for sale. The techniques used to produce celadons were inherited from the Yue kilns, which produced wares in the same province during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127.)

    After the capture of the Song capital at Bianliang around 1125, the court relocated to Hangzhou and formed the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279.) The Southern Song court encouraged a highly aestheticized lifestyle, and fine and decorative art evoked romanticized and poetic ideals. As a result, Longquan celadon wares experienced a generous patronage, celebrated for the quality of materials, variety of forms, and pleasing translucent glazes. As the Yuan Dynasty progressed, growing popularity and demand for celadon merchandise was accommodated by a surge of nearly 300 kilns. Strategically placed near sources of clay and water, the kilns facilitated the sale and transport of celadon works not only in China, but to lucrative export markets in Japan and Turkey.

    The presence of iron oxide spotting is a signature technique of the Longquan kilns, and appears on works produced during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The brown spotted decoration was a departure from traditional monochromatic celadon glazes, however this thoughtful design element provides another layer of dimensionality: it interrupts the green ground and accentuates the molded decoration, drawing the eye to focus on the separate parts which make the whole.

    Though tobi seiji decorated Longquan vases are rare, complete boxes such as the present example are virtually unknown. The crisply molded peonies are a typical motif found on molded Longquan works from this period, however the three-toed dragon chasing pearl (or pi-disc) and five-pointed star borders position the piece as a superior example in well-preserved and unrestored condition.

    Reference:
    Sekai Toji Zenshu (Ceramic Art of the World). Vol. 12, Tokyo, 1977, p. 85-86.
    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Yuan Revolution: Art and Dynastic Change," August 21, 2010-January 9, 2011.
    Boston. The Museum of Fine Arts, Lonquan Celadon Jar, Loan no. M.F.A. 51.47a.
    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Jar with Peony Scroll, Yuan Dynasty (14th century), Accession no. 34.113.6a, b.
    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vase with Peony Scrolls, Yuan Dynasty (mid-14th century), Accession no. 26.292.77.


    Estimate: $20,000 - $40,000.

    Condition Report*: Well potted, missing flake (1 inch) to the bezel rim of the lip flange, otherwise with light surface wear and in very good condition.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    September, 2018
    11th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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