A very rare Dingyao “guan”-marked white-glazed butterfly-pattern square dish

晚唐至五代   定窯白瓷印蝴蝶紋「官」字款方楪

The dish is delicately potted with a square central field enclosed by four raked sides. Each side is shallowly moulded with petal-like divisions rising to the rim as two rounded petals, divided by larger petals spanning each corner. The centre is lightly moulded in thread relief with a design of two butterflies with wings outstretched, facing each other. A clear glaze  covers the inside and outside of the dish, leaving the base unglazed showing the fine white ware, boldly incised in the centre with a large “guan”  (“official”) character.

A slightly larger dish, also decorated with butterflies but lacking the guan” character, excavated at the Ding kiln site in Quyang, Hebei and now in the collection of the Hebei Cultural Research Institute, is illustrated in Dingci Yaji Gugong Bowuguan Jicangji Chutu Dingyao Ciqi Huicui, “Selection of Ding Ware – the Palace Museum’s Collection and Archaeological Excavation”, pp. 68-69, no. 20. A pair of “guan”- marked square Ding dishes, decorated in the same technique with quatrefoil motifs, were sold by Christie’s, “Leisurely Delights of a Transient Life”, Hong Kong, 30th May 2018, lot 2925. Theories abound concerning the significance of guan” marks on Ding ceramics but none has gained a consensus of  scholarly opinion. For a discussion of “guan” and related marks, see Ding Ci Yishu“Ding Porcelain Art”, appendix 7, pp. 164-169. 

Dimensions: Length of each side: 10 cm, 4 inches

Date: Late Tang dynasty (618-906) to Five Dynasties period (907-960), 10th century

Price: On Request