A Longquan celadon handleless mallet-shaped vase

南宋   龍泉窯青瓷紙槌瓶

The vase is finely potted with a broad body with slightly tapered straight sides, angled shoulders and a tall cylindrical neck beneath a wide, almost flat rim. A generously applied glaze of grey-green colour covers the vessel inside and out, including the base, leaving only the footrim unglazed, showing the grey ware burnt to an orange-brown colour beside the edge of the glaze.

Collection of Oskar Gerson, acquired during the 1920s-1930s, Germany,
and thence by descent
Bonhams San Francisco, 25th June 2014, lot 6281

The origin of the ‘mallet’ vase form is somewhat mysterious but seems to derive from a type of Islamic glass bottle. For an example of such a glass bottle found in the tomb of Princess Chen of the Liao dynasty, dated 1018, see Liao Chen Guo Gong Zhu Mu, fig. 14-2. For a discussion of handleless mallet vases of various types, including glass, Korean celadon, Ru ware and Zhanggongxiang ware, see Qing Gong Chuanshi 12 zhi 14 Shiji Qingci Bo Zhan, “Precious as the Morning Star: 12th-14th Century Celadons in the Qing Court Collection”, no. 45, pp. 44-47. It is possible that on the path to the creation of the ceramic form, bronze intermediates were also made, as discussed by Rose Kerr, Song Dynasty Ceramics, p.92.

The pronounced bluish tone of the grey-green glaze on the present vase suggests that the potters were seeking to emulate the wares made for the court by the Ru and Zhanggongxiang kilns, both of which made handleless mallet vases.

For a vase of similarly broad proportions in the Nezu Museum, see Heavenly Blue: Southern Song Celadons, no. 5, p. 37 and for another, in the Palace Museum, see Ceramics Gallery of the Palace Museum. Part I, no. 136, p. 199.

A slightly taller Longquan celadon mallet vase of similar proportions, excavated from a Song tomb in Chengdu, Sichuan province and now in the collection of the Sichuan Museum, is illustrated in Wen Wen Yu Se, Zhao Ci Ou, Longquan Yao Qingci Yishu, “Warm and Smooth, the Colour of Jade, the Shining Wares of Ou - The Art of Longquan Celadon”, p. 55.

Dimensions: Height: 16 cm, 6 ¼ inches

Date: Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279)

Stock No. 2028

Price: On Request