A large blue and white Transitional vase, 17th Century, Chongzhen (1635-44).

The globular body of this vase tapers to a narrow foot and has a tall waisted and flared neck – painted with Buddhist emblems and stylised tulips of Dutch inspiration. The scene is of a barefooted youth who tends to a water buffalo, whilst being confronted by a nobleman – to his left are four court attendants, carrying a series of banners and capped lancers. The ground is decorated in the “High Transitional” style with grass being suggested by areas of v-shaped brush strokes. Clouds - below a shoulder frieze of chrysanthemums - bisect the overall landscape. The short partially smoothed knife cut foot rim is encircled by a series of lappets. Height: 38 cm.

Repair by rim.

Droit de suite: No

60 000 - 80 000 SEK

5 775 - 7 700 EUR

Hammer price: 
120 000 SEK

Purchased at Bonhams Knightsbridge, London, May 2013, Lot 12.

The Avalon Collection.

This collection, which in the main focuses on the Interregnum and Kangxi periods has been both carefully and sensitively formed over the last twenty-five years. The collector, a member of the English Oriental Ceramic Society, has assembled the collection with an eye for provenance whilst purchasing from old European collections, well-established antique dealers and at auction.

Academically, the pieces have been well researched both in terms of their symbolism and narrative themes. In many instances the imagery on the pieces has been referenced to episodes in the romantic and historic novels of Chinese mythology, which were used extensively in the decoration of seventeenth century Chinese porcelain.


For a similar example but with a different scene see “ Chinese Blue and White Porcelain” by Duncan Macintosh, Page 176, No 113.

For a similar scene but on a brush pot see “S Marchant and Sons: Exhibition of Transitional Wares for the Japanese and Domestic Markets” Page 32, No 43.

Related content

Whilst there are a number of stories depicting encounters between noblemen, rustic herders and sages, this is considered to be one of many about Bing Jin, a Prime Minister of Western Han. One day whilst out with his attendants, they came across several men who were brawling by the wayside – however Bing Jin continued his journey without showing concern for the altercation. Later they came across a herdsman with a panting water buffalo. He immediately stopped to ask how long they had been travelling. His attendants were puzzled as to why he was more concerned about an ox than the brawling men. He replied that the fight was a matter for local officials to deal with but an ox panting in early spring – if not travelling for long – suggested unusual heat - which could have disastrous results for the harvest and eventually the whole nation.
The theme of water buffalo and the herdsmen who look after them was a favourite of the imperial painting academy of the Song dynasty (960-1126) - a tradition that was maintained in later dynasties.

Purchasing info
Contact specialist
Cecilia Nordström
Cecilia Nordström
Specialist Asian Ceramics & Works of Art, European Ceramics and Glass
+46 (0)739 40 08 02