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Five Famous Kilns or 碰瓷

By Jay G Ying

after Sarah Howe

Lot No. 2

籃彩水注 – the simple globular form and rare blue colour have great appeal.


Formerly in a Japanese private collection, notice how the blue-splashed glazed-ground water-pitcher pouts without breaking. Its lipped rim, round pour. Was it rubbed with cream or amber, with mutton fat?

Lot No. 10

龍泉青釉刻花卉紋酒壺 – a rare and outstanding example of Ming celadon. My heart missed a beat upon my first touch. 


Scrolling branches of the Baronet’s lilacs, above the lappets on the plum wine pot, the finial bud, strutting my ancestor’s patina. I must admit, trapped inside Room 95 in The British Museum, every pale porcelain crack resurrects the memory of a spider’s web I ripped apart as a child.

Lot No. 18

御製青花海海獸圖高足盃 – it is with pride we offer this remarkable piece as only one other is known.


A pocket each for the kiln of ivory; kiln of my brother; official kiln; worm tracked kiln; kiln like the sky in a clearing after rain. The two chipped rims on this stem cup show signs of immolation, reads the plaque. Nine Sanskrit lanca characters; I raise my gift as Heaven burns behind me.

Lot No. 40

粉彩漁傢樂圖蓋罐 – the ultimate home should be a Chinese museum where it can stand alone and the public can enjoy the story it tells.


Pastoral baluster. Back with the fifth Emperor of the Qing dynasty I spy a scene of families fishing with boats of ladies and children, and further boats near a lady breastfeeding as an elderly man fans his stove, five fisherman by the rocks playing rock-scissors-cloth, more fisherman wading in the water, boats where children rest or row, and a couple drinking underneath a canopy as supervised children play with insects, and a lady opens her basket of fish and the fisherman carries his wet bloodied rope, smuggling in a kiss behind the faceless borders of branches, a lotus, a spray of peonies, saggar, its unglazed bases. Corpse-leaf. Glass flesh that shrinks. Those chirping merchant makers.

Lot No. 53

彩繪鵝形湯盤 – we have never before had such a large and rare example.


Rouge-de-fer, grisaille and yellow-enamelled large goose tureen filled with bile. I know my sugar is by the tea caddy and Sir’s fireplace still whistles its constant operations, a silent century of sintering. Witness this: without rest the lacquer beast is pious beyond belief behind glass, puffing out years of voiceless air compressed. All the numbers in the room count down like an auction followed in reverse. No more reburials. No more time. Neither changing states nor transformations seem to be allowed; NO TOUCHING THE GLASS!

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