A Longquan celadon pouring bowl (yi)

元   龍泉窯青瓷匜

The vessel is of stoutly potted circular basin form with low rounded walls, set on one side with a lipped spout of square section springing from a point slightly below halfway down the  exterior. Unusually, the rim of the vessel is continuous over the opening of the spout, creating a delicate  porcelain bridge. A thickly bubbled celadon glaze of good sea-green colour is applied overall, including the central area of the broad countersunk base, leaving a wide unglazed ring within the boundary of the rounded glazed footrim, showing the fine very pale grey ware burnt to an orange-brown line at the junction with the glaze. 

Ise Collection
Kohnoike Family Collection, Osaka, 17th-19th century (Edo-Meiji period)

Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art eds., Masterpieces of Chinese Ceramic Art, exhibition catalogue (Ishikawa, 2012), p. 51, Pl. 39
Kuboso Memorial Museum of Art eds., Special Exhibition: Sensei, Bansei and Celadon of Longquan Yao, exhibition catalogue (Izumi, 1996)

The pouring bowl, as it is known in English, is an intriguing form that appears to have reached the peak of its popularity during the Yuan dynasty. The character for the current Chinese name is yi ‘匜’, originally used for a type of ancient bronze ceremonial vessel resembling a Western sauce boat. However, during the Yuan dynasty it seems that the pouring bowl was known as a ma yu, 馬盂,literally a “horse vessel”, perhaps similar to the Western term “stirrup cup”, a 
term of some antiquity itself, going back as far as the Three Kingdoms period. The ma yu seems to have been part of a standard feast table setting during the Yuan dynasty, as we know both from contemporary descriptions and from wall paintings. A silver ma yu from a cache found in Yiyang City in Hunan is illustrated in, Hunan Song Yuan Jiao Cang Jin Yin Qi De Yanjiu ‘Research on Gold and Silver Vessels from Song Yuan Caches in Hunan’, p. 288  here the authors also illustrate a detail of a wall painting from Pucheng in Shaanxi, p. 362, illus 2- 9.2, showing several vessels on a table, including a yuhuchun ping and a ma yu

A variant type of pouring bowl, of similar form but with three flanges attached to the rim and pierced for suspension, appears in the Jin dynasty, a Dingyao example of which is illustrated in Art and Culture of the Sung Dynasty, p. 242, IV-60. In the Yuan dynasty some vessels still have a vestigial loop under the spout, perhaps originally for hanging the vessel from the saddle, like the underglaze-blue and celadon examples illustrated in Gansu Wenwu Jinghua ‘The  Cream of Gansu Culture’, pp. 144-5, nos. 146 and 147. The most popular form, however, seems to have been the unadorned version as here. A Longquan celadon example similar to the present vessel was excavated in Shijiazhuang in 1994, illustrated in Zhen Ci Shang Zhen ‘Precious Ceramics, Admiring Authenticity’, p.107, no. 93 and described p. 155, where it is noted that the tomb from which it was excavated is datable to 1316. Several other Longquan celadon examples are in museums and well known collections, for instance the one illustrated by Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Volume Three (II), p. 587, no. 1579.

Dimensions: Length: 17.9 cm, 7 inches

Date: Yuan dynasty (1279-1368)

Price: On Request