Song Dynasty, A.D. 12th Century
of basin form with a squared loop handle applied under the rim at one side beneath a projecting flange in the form of a butterfly with finely detailed wings displayed, the exterior of the gently rounded sides decorated with a narrow border of overlapping petal motifs below the lipped rim, with finely chased feathery edges, with gilding generously applied over the rim, the petal-border, and the butterfly-handle, the interior decorated on the flat base with twin fish curled into a medallion and brightly gilded, each fish shown biting on the other’s tail, finely chased with a regular pattern of stylized scales on their bodies and with delicately outlined fins and long “whiskers” trailing back, the bottom and sides of the vessel left plain.
Diameter 6 inches (15.2 cm)
Width over handle 7 1⁄4 inches (18.4 cm)
This form of bowl with a flange and loop handle at one side, often described as a brushwasher, is recorded in Song dynasty Yaozhou, Junyao, Dingyao, Geyao, Guanyao and other ceramic versions, but Song dynasty silver or other metalwork examples are extremely rare.
A Yaozhou celadon bowl with flange handle is illustrated by Krahl in Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Vol. I, London, 1994, p. 229, no. 405, where the author mentions a related cup excavated from the tomb of a Chinese general who was buried in A.D. 1177 in Tong County, Beijing, illustrated in Beijing Kaogu Sishi Nian (Forty Years of Beijing Archaeology), 1990, pl. 36, fig. 2. Another Yaozhou celadon bowl of similar form and size, excavated in 1988 from Yao county, Shaanxi province, now in the Yaozhou Ware Museum, was included in the 1997 exhibition at the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka and illustrated in the catalogue, The Masterpieces of Yaozhou Ware, p. 80, no. 102. A Dingyao bowl of similar form and size in the National Palace Museum, Taipei is illustrated in The Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Ting Ware White Porcelain, Taipei, 1987, no. 25, as 10th-12th century. A Junyao bowl of similar form and size in the Palace Museum, Beijing is illustrated in Gugong Bowuyuan Cang Wenwu Zhenpin Quanji, Liang Song Ciqi (The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Porcelain of the Song Dynasty), Vol. 32, Hong Kong 1996, p. 253, no. 229. Another bowl of similar form, with a cracked Ge-type glaze, from the Kempe Collection, in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, is illustrated in Oriental Ceramics, The World’s Great Collections, Vol. 8, Tokyo, 1982, no. 197.