18th century Chinese Imperial gilt bronze and cloisonné vase, crafted in the Forbidden City in the style of Ming, but more than a century after the dynasty ended sells for record £228,000 at auction.
THE ‘CHAMPION’ VASE
Scholars have two theories about the object, which is variously known as a ‘He Jingbei’ or nuptial cup or a so-called ‘Champion’ vase.
During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) such cups were used as a ritual wine vessel during the wedding ceremony.
The double cylinders were filled with wine to be drunk by the bride and groom as part of the marriage rites.
Alternatively, ‘Champion’ is a pun on the word ying (falcon) which can be seen perched on top of the xiong (bear), the two creatures, or mythical variations of the two, joining the adjacent vases and together forming the word yingxiong – ‘champion’.
Whichever is correct, this example belongs to a group of objects made in imitation of ancient forms.