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A RARE IMPERIALLY-INSCRIBED RED AND BLACK LACQUER CARVED TEA BOWL Qianlong seal marks and of the period, the inscription dated Bingyin year, corresponding to 1746 and of the period (3)
05月29日 下午3点 开拍
拍品描述 翻译
Qianlong seal marks and of the period, the inscription dated Bingyin year, corresponding to 1746 and of the period
The vessel with deep rounded sides rising from a straight foot to a gently flaring rim, carved to the exterior through layers of cinnabar red lacquer to a black diaper-pattern ground with an Imperial poem, 'Three-Purity Tea,' Sanqing Cha, dated to the Bingyin year (corresponding to 1746) followed by the seals Qian and Long, all between two borders of ruyi designs encircling the rim and foot, reserved on leiwen grounds around the foot and rim, the red-lacquered base intaglio-carved with a six-character seal mark within a recessed square, the interior lacquered brown, wood stand and box. 11.5cm (4 1/2in) diam. (3). 清乾隆 御製剔紅御題詩三清茶盌
「大清乾隆年製」、「乾隆丙寅小春御題」款 、「乾」、「隆」印

Galerie Gerard Levy, Paris

巴黎古董商Galerie Gerard Levy

The present tea bowl would have perhaps been part of a tea set used by the Qianlong emperor at tea ceremonies held during New Year celebrations. The vessel is inscribed with one of his favourite poems, Sanqing cha ('Three-Purity Tea'), which he wrote during the Bingyin year (1746), on the occasion of his 36th birthday while sipping tea in his studio on a cold winter's day. The poem refers to the tea made from plum blossoms, finger citron and pine nut kernels, which was offered to the Emperor during his visit to the sacred mountain Wutai. When brewed together in snow water, these three ingredients gave the tea a unique flavour and purity. The poem further describes the virtues of tea making and drinking, which reminded one of the Buddhist values of simplicity, austerity and purity.

As a consummate connoisseur, the Qianlong emperor combined art and tea at intimate gatherings within the Palace walls. A party hosted by the Emperor was a remarkable experience, an aesthetic convergence of artwork and tea leaf. The Qianlong emperor brewed and tasted tea using the finest objects in the Palace Collection, a great treasure of implements and wares dating back to the eleventh century. During a gathering, the talk flowed from the age and glaze of a tea vessel to the specific number of buds and leaves plucked for a particular tea. Brewed and served, the tea itself was appreciated for its hue, scent and flavour, prompting a new yet leisurely stream of comments and observations. On the occasion of the New Year celebrations, the emperor held a tea-drinking banquet in the Palace of Cherished Glory, Chonghua Gong, in the Forbidden City, where he asked his guests to compose poetry, and as a token of his appreciation, he rewarded the best poet with a 'Sanqingcha' bowl.

The famous poem is recorded in the 'Anthology of Imperial Qianlong poems and prose' Qing gaozong yuzhi shiwen quanji, 'Imperial Poems' Yuzhi shiwen chuji, vol.1, chapter 36, p.17, and may be translated as:

The plum blossom in appearance not ostentatious,
The finger citron, scented and fresh,
Pine nuts of most fragrant aroma,
Three ingredients of outstanding purity.
An infusion is brewed in a shallow tripod vessel,
And the ingredients steeped in snow-water collected in a bamboo casket.
After coming to a boil, bubbles like the eyes of fish or crabs can be seen in the surface of the water,
Steam rises from the tripod appearing to alternate between Utpadanirodha birth and death.
Teacups from the kilns of Yue sprinkled with Immortals' milk,
The warmth of my yurt is agreeable to the joy of the mystic trance.
The five Buddhist Skanda purify the greater part of all things,
Spiritual awakening may occur but cannot be spoken of.
The sweet smelling ingredients are dealt with and suitably delivered,
Silky smooth the Immortals' wine, clear and limpid.
Wo Quan's offering may be eaten.
Lin Bu can admire the change of seasons.
Nonchalantly the Koan of the Zhaozhou monk may be uttered,
And the eccentricity of Yu Chuanzi laughed at heartily.
On a cold night in winter, listening to the sound of the water clock,
From the Guyue Studio I observe the moon, hanging in the sky like a jade archer's ring.
I take advantage of what remains to drink my fill,
And chant deliberately so that I might arise without exhaustion.
Composed by the Emperor in the tenth lunar month of the Bingyin year [corresponding to 1746] during the reign of the Qianlong emperor.

The poem contains numerous literary and Buddhist allusions. The Manchu Imperial family were followers of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism but much of the terminology used - to fit with Chinese poetic practice - relates to Chan Buddhism. Wo Quan was a mythical being who lived in the mountains, where he collected herbs for his own sustenance. He was particularly fond of pine nuts and was said to have presented some as a gift to the legendary Emperor Yao. Yao, however, did not eat them, and so missed out on their long life-giving properties. The Qianlong emperor implies in the poem that, unlike the legendary Emperor Yao, he would not have hesitated.

Another reference in the poem is made to 'the Monk of Zhaozhou'. This was Congshen (778-897), a Tang dynasty Chan Buddhist monk. In Chan Buddhism, a koan is a question, story or statement which may appear contradictory but after greater meditation upon, can lead to enlightenment. The koan of the Monk of Zhaozhou refers to the following story: when two monks visited Congshen, he asked if they had visited this temple before. When the first said yes, Consghen invited him to drink tea; when the second said no, Congshen also invited him to drink tea. When asked by the head monk why he had asked this seemingly pointless question, Congshen also invited him to drink tea. The reference echoes the Qianlong emperor's enlightened generosity in hosting tea parties with his ministers.

Compare with a very similar carved lacquer bowl, with the same poem, Qianlong seal mark and of the period, in the Qing Court Collection in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City, New Haven, 2011, no.57. See also one with the same poem, Qianlong seal mark and of the period, in the Beijing Antique Company Collection, illustrated in Gems of Beijing Cultural Relics Series: Works of Decorative Arts I, Beijing, 2006, pl.25; For a similar pair of lacquer bowls also carved with the Qianlong emperor's poem Sanqing cha ('Three Purity Tea'), see a pair in the Tianjin Municipal Art Museum, illustrated in The Complete Series of Chinese Lacquer Zhongguo qiqi quanji, vol.6, Fuzhou, 1993, pl.211; and see another example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, which is illustrated by H.Garner, Chinese Lacquer, London, 1979, pl.93.

See a pair of similar lacquer carved tea bowls, Qianlong seal marks and of the period, which was sold at Bonhams London, 2 November 2021, lot 46.




乾隆皇帝篤信藏傳佛教,但為貼合漢文語境,其《三清茶》一詩中所援引的諸多文學及佛教典故多與禪宗相關。如「偓佺」一詞,典出漢劉向《列仙傳》:「偓佺者,槐山採藥父也,好食松實,形體生毛,長數寸,兩目更方,能飛行逐走馬。以鬆子遺堯,堯不暇服也。松者,簡松也。時人受服者,皆至二三百歲焉」。 乾隆皇帝自詡其與傳說中的堯帝不同,不會拒絕服用可得長壽的松子。


北京故宮博物館館藏一例清宮舊藏清乾隆剔紅御題詩三清茶盌,「大清乾隆年製」篆書款,極似本例,收錄於《The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City》,紐黑文,倫敦,2011年,編號57;北京市文物公司亦藏一例,見《北京文物精粹大系:工藝品卷 上》,北京,2006年,圖版25;另見天津藝術博物館藏相類三清茶詩成對,收錄於《中國漆器全集》,卷六,福州,1993年,圖版211;以及英國維多利亞及艾伯特博物館館藏一例,收錄於H.Garner著,《Chinese Lacquer》,倫敦,1979年,圖版93。



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