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Exceptional results at Bonhams Hong Kong Chinese Ceramics and Early Jade Sales
A white and russet jade mythical figure pendant from the Tang Dynasty. Photo: Bonhams.

HONG KONG.- Bonhams Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Sale, and the Sale of The Songzhutang Collection of Early Jades, both held in Hong Kong on 30 May, made an astonishing joint total of HK$92,738,750 (US$11,900,000).

The top performing piece in the Fine Chinese Ceramics Sale, which made HK$68,177,500 (US$8,750,000) overall, was the exceptionally rare pair of Imperial blue and white 'Bajixiang' moonflasks, bianhu, Qianlong seal marks and of the period. They were sold for HK$28,540,000 (US$3,660,000) against an estimate of HK$ 20,000,000 – 30,000,000 (US$2,570,000 – US$3,850,000). In a packed auction room, the moonflasks attracted frenzied bidding from global collectors before being hammered down to a bidder from mainland China in the room.

Other highlights of the Fine Chinese Ceramics Sale included:

• An exceedingly rare pair of Imperial Ming-style doucai 'baoxiang' cups, Yongzheng six-character marks and of the period, estimated at HK$ 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 (US$257,000 – 385,000) which sold for HK$6,180,000 (US$793,000). Only one other example appears to be recorded which is preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing.

• A pair of Imperial white jade bowls, incised Qianlong four-character marks with an additional character mark and of the period, estimated at HK$ 3,500,000 – 5,500,000 (US$450,000 – 577,000), that were bought for HK$6,060,000 (US$778,000). Carved from exquisite lustrous white jade stone and beautifully proportioned, the bowls demonstrate the zenith of jade craftsmanship during the Qianlong reign.

The remarkable and diverse Songzhutang Collection of Early Jades, dating from the Neolithic Period to the 14th century, saw 92% sold by lot and 92% by value. It made HK$24,561,250 (US$3,152,000) and produced some remarkable prices.

The leading lot was a rare white and russet jade mythical figure pendant from the Tang Dynasty. Estimated at HK$150,000 – 200,000 (US$19,250 – 25,600), it sold for HK$3,540,000 (US$454,000). The piece was once in the collection of Cheung Tao Yin, an eminent collector of Chinese archaic jades, and a renowned filmmaker in Hong Kong in the 1970s.

Among the other highlights were:

• An important early jade carving of an exceptionally rare mythical-bird scroll weight, Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25 – 220) or later. Estimated at HK$800,000 – 1,200,000 (US$77,000 – 154,000), it sold for HK$2,340,000 (US$300,000). During the Han dynasty, gilt-bronze weights or more exceptionally prized jade carvings, were used to weigh the corners of mats on which the Imperial family and high nobility sat. This carving was highly prized during the Qianlong reign (1736-1795), as seen by an incised inscription on the underside, ‘Dehui yunri’, conveying the meaning of ‘Virtue is as broad as the sky’.

• Estimated at HK$80,000 – 120,000 (US$7,700 – 15,400), a superb jade bi disc, Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 220) sold for HK$1,980,000 (US$255,000). Intricately carved with interlocking design of taotie motifs and rice-grain pattern, it was formerly in the collection of the renowned Hong Kong collector, and one of the founders of the Min Chiu Society, Dr Ip Yee.

Bonhams International Head of Chinese Art, Asaph Hyman, commented: “I am delighted at the outcome of today’s sales. We were able to offer a wealth of pieces from highly distinguished collections. Not surprisingly, collectors from around the world took full advantage of the opportunity to acquire objects of historical significance, rarity and provenance.”

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