RMB 80 is not a large sum of money. You may spend it for a meal, a movie, or a museum ticket which would bring exceptionally expensive artworks right to your front! The Chinese billionaire, Liu Yiqian, has been actively involved in the auction market in recent years; he also established museums in Shanghai and Chungqi for exhibiting his collections. One of them, the Long Museum located in the West Bund area of Shanghai, now presents “The Yongle Emperor’s World: Imperial Thangka and Artworks from the Yong-Xuan Era of the Ming Dynasty”, showcasing a HK$300-million thangka and a HK$200-million blue and white “fish” porcelain bowl along with 13 other important and rare Ming pieces. All of them had been put up for auction and sold for millions.
Realized at HK$348,440,000 on November 26, 2014 at Christie’s Hong Kong, the thangka has become the most expensive piece among its kind. With a size of 132 x 84 inch, this massive thangka bears the Yongle six-character presentation mark. Comparable works with the identical mark can be found in Jokhang temple, Tibet.
There are two types of thangkas: those painted with colouring materials made from plateau plants and minerals, and those silk-made ones by appliqué or embroidery. This thangka belongs to the latter, and is exquisitely embroidered in gold thread and brilliant coloured silk threads on dark-green silk. The central image is the wrathful Raktayamari, depicted in tones of red, standing in yab-yum embracing his consort Vajravetali, whose left leg is encircling his waist. The colour contrast between the green and the red is strong and powerful.
Another extremely extravagant exhibit, the blue and white “fish” porcelain bowl (more pictures on The Value), was sold for HK$229,037,500 by Sotheby’s Hong Kong on April 5, 2017 (related report by The Value). It comes from the Xuande period, and bears the six-character mark of the Emperor in double circles. Though the true identity of the buyer is yet unveiled, the piece is now lend to thw Long Museum for the current exhibition.
The bowl’s diameter reaches 23 cm, and it is decorated in different washes of cobalt with a dense and dynamic scene portraying fishes swimming amidst water plants and lotus flowers. There are only two similar items to in in the world, which are now secured in Taipei Palace Museum, and both of them are smaller in size.
Other exhibit highlights include a blue and white moon flask with flower motifs, and a blue and white holy water vessel with peony motifs.
Other Exhibit Highlights
A BLUE AND WHITE MOONFLASK, BIANHU
MING DYNASTY, YONGLE PERIOD
Realized at HK$110,520,000, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, April 6, 2017, lot 17
A BLUE AND WHITE HOLY WATER VESSEL
MING DYNASTY, YONGLE PERIOD
Realized at HK$99,320,000, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, April 6, 2017, lot 16
A COBALT-BLUE AND IRON-RED ‘MYTHICAL BEASTS’ STEMCUP
MARK AND PERIOD OF XUANDE
Realized at HK$79,640,000, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 8, 2013, lot 3029
Opening Information of Shanghai Long Museum (West Bund)
10:00 - 18:00, Tuesday to Thursday
10:00 - 21:00, Friday to Saturday
(Closed on Mondays)
Middle Longhua Road Station, Line 7 Line12 (Exit 5)