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    Ru guanyao brush washer from the Northern Song Dynasty.

    AN extremely rare Ru guanyao brush washer from the the Northern Song Dynasty comes up at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on October 3.  From the Le Cong Tang collection it is one of only four known heirloom Ru wares in private hands and is estimated to make as much as US$10 million. Ru guanyao, the court ware of the late Northern Song (960-1127), was commissioned by the imperial court and is the most revered of the Five Great Kilns. Its quasi mythical status over the millennium can be attributed to its short-lived production period, generally believed to not have exceeded twenty years. With its glowing, intense blue-green glaze, its luminous, complex interlaced ‘ice crackle’ pattern, its classic, excellently proportioned shape, and its three fine ‘sesame seed’ spur marks, this brush washer, formerly in the collection of the Chang Foundation in the Hongxi Museum, Taipei, is a pre-eminent example of Ru guanyao and incarnates to perfection the ware’s revered qualities. While seemingly small and unobtrusive, these understated aesthetics reflect the calibre and meticulousness of its craftsmanship, a quiet metaphor of Chinese philosophy celebrated by erudite connoisseurs and scholars throughout time.

    Other major highlights include an exceptional Xuande-marked porcelain jar painted in rich tones of cobalt-blue with a pair of makaras which was part of the 1968 Oriental Ceramics Society Exhibition, an extremely fine and rare blue and white ‘bajixiang’ bowl which has not been seen in the market for thirty years and an important documentary Tibetan gilt-inscribed jade river pebble ‘kapala’ box which marked the occasion in 1783 when the Eighth Dalai Lama was presented with an imperial jade edict by the Qianlong Emperor. A total of six sales this season offer more than 230 lots estimated in excess of HK$600 million / US$77 million.

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