White Monochrome Bell
Chongzhen Period 1628–1644
Bells are an exceptionally rare form in Chinese porcelain. Indeed this very finely potted white bell of the Chongzhen period would appear to be unique. The body has been very finely incised with three large roundels of flowers amongst small clouds set between further incised bands of flower and wave/scroll and wave pattern at the shoulder and wavy unglazed rim.
The flowers in the roundels are rather hard to accurately identify, on their own we may class the flowers as lotus but the leaves and buds point more towards peony. Perhaps deliberately or perhaps unwittingly the artist has made an object suitable for all markets, to Buddhists for whom a lotus is a symbol
of purity, Daoists for whom the peony is a symbol of nature’s beauty and Confucion- ists for whom ‘music was a manifestation
of virtue and one of the pillars of a properly ordered society.’
Although extremely rare, porcelain bells in blue and white are known from the previous Tianqi period. Equally rare are blue and white as well as monochrome bells from the Qing period of which examples are housed in the Palace museum. However no other monochrome bell from this period seems to be recorded.
Two blue and white bells made during the previous Tianqi Period are known. One was formerly in the Alfred Clark Collection and one is in the collection of the Palace Museum Beijing, which interestingly is decorated with eighteen lohans. (The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum – 35 – Blue and White Porcelain with Underglaze Red
II, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 232-3, no. 212)
From the ensuing Qing Dynasty two monochrome bells are in the Palace Museum, a Qianlong (1736 – 1795) white glazed bell and a Kangxi (1662 – 1722) ‘snowflake blue’ glazed bell both illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Monochrome Porcelain, Commer- cial Press, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 129, no.118. There is also a ‘snowflake blue’ glazed bell from the Kangxi period with a dragon handle also in the Palace Museum, ibid, p. 90,
h: (without stand): 19.7cm 73⁄4in
高( 不 連 底 座 ):1 9 . 7 公 分 7 3⁄4 英 寸