Tianbai Glaze (Sweet White)


White porcelain was of special significance for the court during the Yongle reign (1403-24). The sophistication of the production of white-glazed porcelain during the Yongle period of the Ming dynasty may be attributed to the Emperor’s personal fondness for white vessels.

The production of white-glazed porcelain during the Yongle period achieved technical virtuosity, distinguished by the very fine white body clay and luminous white glaze, which earned the name tianbai or ‘sweet white’ glaze. Tests, conducted on excavated pieces of Tianbai wares from the Site of the Ming Imperial Factory at Jingdezhen, discovered that the pure white porcelain resulted from the combination of a kaolin-rich paste with very low iron and titanium content and a glaze containing mainly glaze stone and no glaze ash.

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What’s Been Happening In The Auctions? Potential Problem!

Lets look at two pieces of Chinese porcelain recently sold for big money.

1st Lot: Briggs Auction’s Fine Estates Auction held on July 30th

A doucai conical bowl and cover decorated with dragons just sold for $200,000 in the USA. The bowl is said to have been part of a collection from a direct descendant of Thomas Alexander Scott (Pennsylvania, 1823–1881). The bowl bore a six character Yongzheng mark to the base.

Mr. Turner from Briggs Auction said “It was very exciting and gratifying to see this rare piece of Chinese decorative arts be so competitively fought over by bidders across the globe. The intense interest this small bowl generated almost from the day the auction was posted online showed us that we had an incredibly special piece on our hands. We’re very happy not only for the consignor’s family, and for the bowl’s new owner as well.”

Irv: I remember being the under bidder on a similar pair of Yongzheng bowls, missing their covers sold by Shapes auction up in Scotland a few years ago, the bowls offered for sale by Shapes was damaged. Christie’s have sold these bowls perfect for around $160,000.

See the shapes auction info HERE

Irv: I have real troubles with this next lot, I will explain after the news pieces below…

Headline reads: Chinese Ru ware sells at Stamford Auction Rooms for surprise price!

2nd Lot: A censer (but described as a bowl, pot and a plant stand in the press release). Anyway the censer had an estimate of £800 but sold for £320,000.

The official description for the piece which was lot number 392 read: A Chinese celadon vase (its a vase now).

Auctioneer Jessica Wall said “There was no indication it would fly in the way that it did,” Ms Wall added, with the item finally fetching £320,000, before fees.

Recounting the moment the hammer came down on the auction two weeks ago, Ms Wall said: “It was quite a moment.

“When it got to about £10,000, I thought it was interesting and a good result but that it would stop there. It kept going and I started to get butterflies.”

The family of the deceased are said to be “blown away” by the sale, the auction house said.

The eventual buyer, who travelled from London to Stamford for the auction, has chosen to remain anonymous.

“It’s extremely rare for such a big surprise like this, but it’s every auctioneer’s dream,” Ms Wall added.

Irv: Here’s the problem – Someone is touting this censer off as being Ru ware within the online press articles, if it is the auctioneer making these claims then she needs to be careful as the buyer will be able to seek a refund.

Why would the buyer want a refund? There is only around 70 intact pieces of Ru ware known in the world. The buyer HAS ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE of getting this censer certified as genuine Ru Ware. If a piece of Ru Ware comes onto the market from a trusted source it is first scrutinized for months by a group of the worlds most respected and knowledgeable scholars in the Chinese art community and if they say no to a piece then it is worthless.

This censer has turned up out of the blue with no solid provenance.

I know from personal experience how the game works, even if the piece is somehow miraculously period it would still not find its way to the Ru ware round table panel of experts as its provenance or lack of would not even get it to the starting gate.

Fingers crossed for the buyer.


Ancient Buddhas Stolen From Fozi Mountain In China

Around two dozen ancient Buddhas have been torn from a mountain side in Sichuan province. The ancient statues were carved into the side of a cliff on Fozi Mountain. So far, 13 officials have been pulled in for questioning following the thefts.

The Tang dynasty statues are among a large collection of more than 220 figures carved into the surface of a 30-metre tall cliff on Fozi Mountain.

Officials from the local cultural relics department discovered the thefts while on a routine patrol in January and alerted the police.

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Imperial Huanghuali Table With A £1000 Estimate Sells For £278,000 In The UK

A small wooden Chinese altar table that went unnoticed in a family home for many years has sold at auction in the UK for more than 200 times its initial estimates of £1,000.

The table was bought bought by a Chinese mainland buyer in what the auctioneer described as a bidding war.

There was a lot of speculation flying around before the auction about the table with rumors abound that the table was actually an imperial piece made for a Chinese emperor who ruled during the 19th century.

Read moreImperial Huanghuali Table With A £1000 Estimate Sells For £278,000 In The UK

$41.6 Million – Most Expensive Chinese Porcelain Ever Sold

Genuine Chinese antiques frequently change hands for significant sums, especially imperial porcelain pieces. Collectors often scour trade fairs and private dealerships, hoping to find a new addition to showcase. It’s at auction that the serious business often unfolds, though.

Back in 2017, a collector placed a ceramic Ru Guanyao brush washer for sale by Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Dating back to the Northern Song dynasty (dated 907-1127, for the uninitiated), this lot sold for an eye-watering £27 million. That was a world record for an antique ceramic hailing from China – until now. In June 2021, a lot sold that shattered this record.

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