An extremely rare and ancient Chinese bowl smashed the world auction record for Chinese ceramics, selling for HK$294.3 million ($37.68 million) at a Sotheby’s sale in Hong Kong.
The small 13-cm (5-inch) blue-green bowl from China’s Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) was sold to an anonymous phone bidder and thus beat the previous record also set in a sale in Hong Kong, when a 500-year-old imperial “chicken” cup from the Ming dynasty Chenghua period sold for HK$281.2 million ($36.0 million) in 2014.
The bowl which was used to wash brushes, was in pristine condition, which is noteworthy given its age.
Such “Ru guanyao” wares – known for their intense blue-green glaze and “ice-crackle” pattern – are extremely rare because the kiln in China’s central Henan province had a brief production run of only around two decades.
Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia explained, “Wares of this type, which were made exclusively for the use of the Northern Song court, were produced at the imperial Ru kilns over a relatively short timeframe—perhaps no more than two decades during the late 11th and early 12th centuries.” He went on to add, “Ru ware is the most celebrated ware in the history of Chinese ceramics.”