Buy Rare Chinese Porcelain Shards

£8 Million Plus Expected For Yongle Ewer

A rare blue-and-white porcelain ewer crafted for the Chinese Emperor Yongle during the Ming Dynasty is set to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on April 8th. The unique ewer, which stands at 9 inches tall and features a clawed dragon design, is expected to fetch over £8.3 million, a new auction record. The porcelain piece is thought to be the only extant example of its kind, and it was originally created for personal use by Emperor Yongle between 1402 and 1424.

According to Nicholas Chow, an expert in Chinese art, the ewer is “one of the most iconic imperial porcelains we have sold in 50 years.” The blue color used in the piece was created using Smalt or Samarra cobalt imported from Persia, which was scarce at the time and used sparingly. This rarity resulted in darker blue spots, known as ‘heaped and piled.’

The ewer’s dragon motif, depicted in an agitated swerving pose, is a common sight on imperial Ming porcelain. Scholars believe the design of the ewer was inspired by Middle Eastern metal prototypes used among nomads, and this particular shape was only adopted during the Xuande period, becoming the blueprint for all later dragon-decorated imperial porcelains.

The unique ewer has not been on the market for almost 40 years, having been previously sold by Sotheby’s in 1987 for HK$5.72 million. It was part of the celebrated T.Y. Chao collection before it entered a private collection for 36 years. The piece is highly sought after due to its provenance and rarity, and it is expected to attract significant interest from collectors and investors alike.