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Flask with ruyi handles and figures decoration in underglaze blue, Yongle reign (1403-1424), Ming dynasty

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Flask with ruyi handles and figures decoration in underglaze blue
Yongle reign (1403-1424), Ming dynasty
H. 29.7 cm;Diam. 3.6 cm;L. of foot 12.0 cm;W. of foot 8.0 cm


The form of this flask with paired ruyi handles was influenced by the pottery and glassware of Central and Western Asia. The flask has a small mouth, slender neck, flat round belly, and flat base without a ring foot. On each side of the neck, a bow-shaped handle links the neck and shoulders. The entire vessel is decorated with blue and white glaze, and the neck is adorned with blue and white plantain leaf patterns. Rings of upward- and downward-facing lotus petal patterns encircle the shoulders and the bottom of the flask. Both sides of the belly depict scenes of mountains and water, with rocks and streams in the foreground and trees and rocks in the middle ground. Three figures on one side and two on the other dance and play music between the distant mountains and rocks in the foreground. The features and dress of these five figures are exotic and foreign, and their postures and combined appearance closely resemble that of figures praying for dried springs to flow again in 14th-century Islamic paintings. Only two flasks with paired ruyi handles that depict human figures are known to exist to date, one of which is this work in the Museum collections, and the other of which is in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. This attests to the rarity of such works.


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