A sancai glazed earthenware flask
Tang dynasty, 8th century AD, China
唐 8世紀 中國
Height: 27 cm, 10.5 inches
The cream coloured earthenware figure is modelled as a young Western Asiatic boy. He kneels on one leg upon an oval base, with a naturalistically modelled goose between his legs. A force-feeding funnel is wedged into the sancai-glazed bird’s open beak. The boy holds the goose close to his chest; he looks straight ahead with wide, open oval eyes, raised eyebrows and pouting lips – his expression conveying surprise. Most unusually, the whole of the head is amber glazed – the pupils and eyebrows picked out in brown, which enlivens the expression.
TT Tsui collection
The Arthur M Sackler Collection – Christie’s, New York, 1st December 1994 – lot 151A.Chinese Ceramics’ The Tsui Museum of Art Vol 1, figure 128, Hong Kong 1993.
‘Chinese Ceramics’ The Tsui Museum of Art Vol 1, figure 128, Hong Kong 1993.
This subject belongs to a group of figures who are either kneeling or sitting, holding an animal. The figure is unusual – firstly, in that it has been placed upon a lotus base – a Buddhist feature often seen in stone sculpture, but rarely in tomb figurines. Secondly, the heads of nearly all Tang glazed earthenware figures were left unglazed, having being painted in cold pigments instead – so as to more subtly convey facial features and colouring, but invariably with considerable loss of the pigment in the intervening years. This piece, however, has had the whole head amber glazed, resulting in a satisfying and startling completeness in the decoration, with no loss of the original effect.