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Pair of Massive Temple Vases in Kiangxi Style
Item No. 4026

17th - 18th Century, N/A, China
26" x 16" x 11"
( 66.04 x 40.64 x 27.94 cm)
(H x W x D)

This extremely rare, fine and important pair of vases, probably from a temple or home of a wealth family, is covered with liuli, a three-color glaze consisting of amber, green and brown with some clear glaze revealing the biscuit underneath. Given its size and massive presence, these vases were probably originally made for use in a temple or wealthy residence, as a public space would demand such a large dimensions.

Each vase has a scalloped surface, a flaring, everted rim and a flared foot and is exquisitely decorated on front with a raised roundel in relief enclosing a pair of dragons chasing the flaming, magical pearl on one side and a roundel enclosing a dragon cavorting above the seas and in the clouds on the other.

The Chinese Dragon, or Lung, symbolizes power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious and he overcomes obstacles until success is his.

The lung is regarded as the Supreme Being, and the ultimate symbol of good fortune. divine protection and vigilance. Being the divine mythical animal, it can ward off wandering evil spirits, protect the innocent and bestow safety to all that hold his emblem.

The lung has the ability to live in the seas, fly up the heavens and be coiled up in the land in the form of mountains, as symbolically depicted on one side of these vases.

Two dragons flying in the heavens among the clouds chasing a flaming pearl is a common motif in Chinese art, portrayed in paintings, and on ceramics, furniture, textiles and accessories. It is believed that the flaming pearl, which represents the moon or rolling thunder, gives the dragons their power and allows them to ascend to heaven. In Buddhism, the dragon pearl symbolizes enlightenment and spiritual essence, and in Chinese mythology, the glowing pearl is regarded as a very precious gem imbuing benevolence and is associated with daylight.

Although there are many interpretations of the dragons chasing the pearl, one of the most charming is the myth of a village boy who found a brilliant pearl and brought it to his home. His mother hid the pearl in a jar of so the neighbors would not be envious of their newfound wealth. When they found the jar full of pearls several days later they placed the pearl into another empty jar which also became full. They decided to share their bounty with the neighbors, and though they told no one the secret of the pearl, word of its magical powers soon spread. The villagers became jealous and attached the boy, who, in the confusion swallowed the pearl. As its magic raged through his body, he was changed into a huge dragon who thereafter lived in the river by the village. Thus portrayals of dragons with a flaming pearl have come to represent the boy protecting the miraculous pearl.

On each end is a tao-tieh mask consisting of an almost three dimensional, open mouthed lion head with a ring hanging from its jaws.

Select for detailed information about Chinese Dragons.

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