Tang-Type Celadon Glazed ‘Dragon’ Vase Fetches RMB 41.4m, Four Times Its Estimate

Beijing Poly Auction’s Sale of Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art was led by a Tang-type celadon glazed ‘dragon’ vase. Featured on the cover of the catalogue, the vase fetched RMB 41.4m, four times its pre-sale estimate RMB 10m. This vase came from the collection of Qing Kuan, one of the most prominent collectors in the Qing dynasty. He was also assigned by the Empress Dowager Cixi with the mission of sourcing important works of art outside the imperial court.  

This ‘dragon’ vase was molded after a Greek container called amphora, descending from at least as early as the Neolithic Period. Ceramics of shapes and uses falling within the range of amphorae are of prehistoric heritage across Eurasia, from the Caucasus to China. Amphora was introduced to China during the Tang dynasty (618–906)and was then further modified into ‘double-dragon’ amphora by adding two dragon handles flanking the neck. The present one is an imitation of Tang-type ‘double-dragon’ vase from the Yongzheng period (1722-1735) in the Qing dynasty. ‘Double-dragon’ vases from the Tang dynasty are of rounder body whereas those from the Yongzheng period are of baluster body.

In May this year, Christie’s Hong Kong sold a 51.8 cm-tall ‘double-dragon’ celadon-glazed amphora from the Alan Chuang collection. It was estimated at HK$120m and sold for HK$140m, breaking the world record for Chinese monochrome porcelain. Nonetheless, it led to a lawsuit between Christie’s and the buyer since the payment is not yet settled by the buyer. The present lot is 9 cm shorter but is estimated at an attractive price of RMB 10m-15m.

The one on the left was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong
The one on the right was sold at the current sale at Beijing Poly Auction

The bidding of this Tang-type celadon glazed ‘dragon’ vase started at RMB 9.2m and soon soared to RMB 20m with buyers showing fervent interest. The vase was hammered down for RMB 36m and sold for RMB 41.4m with buyer’s premium.


An Extreme Rare Tang-Type Celadon Glazed ‘Dragon’ Vase, Hu
Yongzheng Period, Qing Dynasty

Lot no.: 5183
Height: 43 cm
Six-character seal mark of the Yongzheng period

  • Collection of Qing Kuan Family

Estimate: RMB 10,000,000 - 15,000,000
Hammer price: RMB 36,000,000
Price realized: RMB 41,400,000


Auction Summary

Auction house: Beijing Poly Auction
Sale: The Grand Panorama – the Evening Sale of Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
Auction date: 2017/12/18
Sale total: RMB 311,132,500
Lot offered: 39
Sold: 37
Unsold: 2
Sell-through rate: 95%
Average price per lot: RMB 8,408,986