Qianlong dragon lantern vase valued at $3.2m with Christie's

On November 27 in Hong Kong, Christie's will offer Imperial Chinese Porcelain: Treasures from a Distinguished American Collection, starring a very rare Qianlong dragon lantern vase.

Qianlong dragon vase Chinese ceramic
The five-clawed dragon is the most potent symbol of imperial majesty in China

The sale will exhibit 14 works that span the early Ming to mid-Qing periods of Chinese history. The Qianlong lantern vase is expected to sell for between $2.4m and $3.2m.

The vase is a rare carved piece with apple-green enamel, and bears a Qianlong-impressed six-character seal mark of the period (1736-1795). It is remarkable due to its large size and outstanding decoration, with imperial dragons emblazoned across its side.

The five-clawed dragon is described by Christie's as "the most potent symbol of imperial majesty" and features on the vase in carved relief.

Following will be a Yongle period (1403-1425) tianbai-glazed and anhua-decorated "pomegranate" bottle vase, which is estimated at $1.1m-1.5m.

Anghua Tianbai vase Chinese imperial Yongle
The pomegranate design is almost invisible until the piece is held to the light

Tianbai translates as "sweet white", and refers to the very fine white body clay and luminous white glaze used on pieces from the period. Anhua means "secret language" and describes subtle decoration that is engraved on the white piece before firing, which is only visible when held to the light.

The pomegranate ripening to expose its seeds is symbolic of the Yongle emperor's wish for numerous sons.

The auction comes amid a number of high-profile sales of Chinese ceramics in Hong Kong for Christie's, with the auction of the RFA Riesco Collection also occurring on the same day.

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