- THE COLLECTION
- THE SPIRIT OF THE GALLERY
A pair of rare ornamental rectangular bricks of big size with floral adornment in high relief depicting lotus flowers and chrysanthemum. The two bricks are glazed in Sancaï green and yellow color. Decoration is applied onto the brick, upper section of the brick is visible.
Sancai literally means three colours, but actually it’s a general term because you see examples of Sancai in which there are more than three colours. Usually these basic colours will be green, cream and amber — known as ‘egg and spinach’ in the West — but the glaze could also feature brown, blue and purple. During the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD), Sancai wares were widely used for burial goods such as vessels and figurines. ‘On these figures you will see a lot of places that have been deliberately left unglazed,’ explains Chang. ‘Because the glaze is really runny all these different colours will mix during firing — which is not ideal for facial features. So they left the features unglazed, and later painted them in with coloured pigments. With many of the pieces we see today, the pigment is lost because it’s mostly composed of organic materials, but the glaze remains vibrant.
Fine state of preservation.
These two bricks constituted the ornamentation of the exterior walls of patios and gardens in the rich Ming residences. Some walls in the Forbidden City have such bricks, which are always rectangular and most of the time coloured, as with these, in yellow, green and brown sancai. Under the Ming dynasty, yellow became the imperial colour. Associated with green, they bring wealth, joy and longevity to the house they decorate. The lotus, a summer flower, is one of the eight symbols of Buddhism, it signifies purity and integrity. The chrysanthemum, an autumn flower, is associated with the learned; it represents perseverance and virtue. In these two bricks we see evidence of the dexterity of the potter who fashioned by hand the two flowers in full bloom. The Guimet Museum in Paris exhibits similar pieces. Good state of preservation. Some broken and missing sections on the relief of the chrysanthemum and lotus flower. A missing corner at the top left of each plate