This Chinese turquoise ground ewer, standing just 73/4in (19.7cm) high, belongs to a group of ritual wares specially commissioned by the Qing Court for placement on Buddhist altars. Their function was for ceremonial use in palaces and temples either within the Forbidden Palace or Bishushanzhuang in Chengde.
The inspiration for the form, with its elaborate knopped neck
and a moulded dragon's head with fanged teeth at the junction of
the body and the spout, comes from Tibetan metalwares made as
containers for storage of sacred water. A number of similar vessels
are known, but perhaps the nearest is the green-ground example from
The Gulland Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This example, carrying an iron red Qianlong seal mark and of the
period, was offered for sale by Duke's of Dorchester on February 15
courtesy of a Dorset vendor who believed his mother had acquired it
at a country house sale in the 1980s. It sold at £36,000.
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