The Edward T. Chow ‘Bajixiang’ Bowl Hammered Down at US$5.6m at its Single-lot Sale

Sotheby’s achieved unparalleled sale results with its Le Cong Tang sale, in which a Ru-ware brush washer was sold for a recording-breaking price of HK$294m (US$37.7m), making history as the most expensive ceramic ever sold.

Following the Le Cong Tang sale, a single-lot sale selling a blue and white ‘Bajixiang’ bowl from the collection of Edward T. Chow also recorded satisfactory results. It was hammered down at HK$44m (US$5.6m) and sold for HK$51m (US$6.56m) with buyer’s premium.

The bowl is painted in vivid cobalt blue with the Buddhist emblems “Bajixiang” and lotus blooms. The bowl is well-preserved with its original cover, which makes the piece even rarer. It has great provenance as it once belonged to Edward T. Chow (significant art dealer) and T.Y Chao (shipping tycoon). It was sold as the only lot at its single-lot sale, carrying an estimate of HK$35m-55m (US$4.48m - 7.04m). The opening bid was HK$20m and followed by a bid increment of HK$2m by someone in the room.

Several telephone bidders joined the bidding battle and pushed the price to HK$32m. The next bidder lifted it up to HK$35m, the lowest estimate of the bowl. Once the price reached HK$40m, the bidding pace slowed down. The final bid HK$44m was made by a gentleman at the front of the room and no higher bids were made afterwards. The bowl was hammered down at HK$44m and sold for HK$51,287,500 (US$6,564,800) with buyer’s premium.

Collection of National Palace Museum

Collection of the Palace Museum

There are two blue and white bowls similar to this Xuande bowl. One is now housed in National Palace Museum in Taipei and the other one is in the Palace Museum in Beijing. The latter one is decorated with stylized lotus but no Bajixiang (Eight Buddhist Emblems). In fact, there are not many Xuande bowls like this, decorated with stylized lotus and Baixiang, have survived. It is even rarer that this one comes with its original cover.

One special feature of Xuande bowls is a double-circle mark on the bowl, adhering to the rules set by the imperial court. The cover is also inscribed with a mark but not necessarily within double circles. The bowl is decorated with lotus and Bajixiang motifs, which are mostly related to Buddhst worship. It could be a ritual vessel for Buddhist worship and was put alongside with other offerings on the altar table.

An Extremely Fine and Rare Blue and White 'Bajixiang' Bowl and Cover
Marks and Period of Xuande

Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Sale: The Edward T. Chow ‘Bajixiang’ Bowl
Auction date: 2017/10/3
Sale no.: 3301
Size: 10.7 x 17.8 cm

  • Collection of Edward T. Chow (1910-1980)
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 25th November 1980, lot 5
  • Collection of T.Y. Chao (1912-1999)
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 19th May 1987, lot 231

Estimate: HK$35,000,000 - 55,000,000 (US$4,480,000 - 7,040,000)
Hammer price: HK$44,000,000 (US$5,600,000)
Price realized: HK$51,287,500 (US$6,564,800)

(All prices realized have included buyer’s premium unless otherwise specified)