The Beauty and Rarity of a Small ‘Sky-Blue’ Ru Tea Bowl That Coveted by Ceramics Collectors

‘Ru, Guan, Ge, Ding, Jun’ are the Five Great Kilns which produced Chinese ceramics during the Song dynasty (960-1279). Ru is considered the top among these five kilns and is highly desired by collectors of Chinese ceramics. There are only about 80 surviving pieces of Ru wares today. One of them is going to be auctioned at Christie’s in Hong Kong next week. Liang-Lin Chen, Specialist, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, sheds light into the beauty and rarity of a ‘sky-blue’ tea bowl from the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127).

An Important & Extremely Rare Ru 'Sky-Blue' Tea Bowl. Northern Song Dynasty, Late 11th - Early 12th Century

Lot no.: 8006
Diameter: 10.2cm

  • Kobijutsu Kusaba (founded in 1905), Kurume, Kyushu, acquired prior to 1941
  • Collection of Mr. Yuzura Sato (1917-1996), scholar of French Literature at Kyushu University and Hiroshima University, acquired from the above in the early 1950s
  • A Japanese private collection

Estimate upon request

Liang-Lin Chen, Specialist, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Christie’s

Highly Coveted Northern Song Ru Ware

Liang-Lin: The treasure next to me is a Ru ‘sky’ blue’ tea bowl. Ru ware is a highly coveted work of art among Chinese ceramics collectors. Ru ware was produced in the last twenty years of the reign of Emperor Huizong of Song (1082-1135). Produced in the Qingliangsi kiln, Ru ware was reserved for the imperial court. Ru ware was fired on spurs supporting the base or the foot ring, so the glaze is all over the ware.

Distinct Sky-Blue Colour Resembling “Blue Sky After Rain”

Liang-Lin: Ru ware is noted for its distinct bluey-green-coloured glaze. Yet the colours of glaze vary dependent on conditions during the production, some in grey tone while some in bluish colours. And this one here is in beautiful ‘sky blue’ colour.

Ru Ware Dish from the Northern Song Dynasty|British Museum 

There are sesame-shaped spur marks on the base of the Ru ware dish

Sesame-shaped spur marks are on the foot ring of this tea bowl

Sesame-Shaped Spur Marks on the Foot Ring

Liang-Lin: The foot ring has three tiny, sesame-shaped spur marks. In most ru ware, spur marks are on the base. But the base of this ware is fully covered in glaze because the spur marks are on the foot ring.

Kept in a Japanese Private Collection Since the 1940s

Liang-Lin: There are only about 80 surviving pieces of ru ware today, less than 10 pieces in private hands. This one was acquired in the 1940s by a scholar of French Literature in Japan from an antique dealer in Fukuoka. It has been handed down in the family since then. It was exhibited in The Museum of Oriental Ceramics in 2014.

Liang-Lin Chen, Specialist, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Christie’s

The Museum of Oriental Ceramics

Ru Narcissus Basin from the Northern Song dynasty|National Palace Museum

Only Known Example of Tea Bowl Shape

Liang-Lin: Shapes of ru ware that we commonly see are dishes and narcissus basins. This shape, tea bowl, is very special. As far as we know, there is only one similar example ever excavated. But the shape of that piece is not as good as this present one, so this one is the only known example of Ru tea bowl. We expect it to fetch in excess of HK$30m (US$3.8m).

Christie’s Hong Kong|Beyond Compare: A Thousand Years of the Literati Aesthetic (Evening Sale)

Location: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Lots offered: 21
23 November 2018|10:30am - 8pm
24-26 November 2018|10:30am - 6:30pm
Auction date: 2018/11/26|7pm