Chenghua porcelain is among the most valuable and highly prized of imperial wares from the Ming period. It is also the rarest of Ming porcelain because so few of what must once have been a stupendous collection of wares made for Emperor Chenghua are known to have survived following Chenghua's death in 1487.
Despite five centuries of clandestine treasure hunting by grave robbers and secretive collectors, no palpable cache of Chengua porcelain appears to have come to light. In writing this book, the author does not claim to have found the answer to the mistery of Emperor Chenghua's lost treasure. However, he is, in his opinion, privy to a private collection of same exceptional pieces of Chenghua porcelain. These pieces were embargoed from publication for about 30 years because many are radically different from authenticated examples of Chenghua wares in extant collections. For the first time, a selection from this collection is published here, together with a scholarly essay which, while acknowledging indebtedness to established authorities when traversing familiar ground, does not balk at expressing contrary opinions whenever justified. The result is an unprecedented work on Chenghua porcelain. Whether a Chengua expert or layperson, the reader will find Section II a feast for the eye while studying the various photographs and mulling over the delicacy of the potting and design, the quiet splendour of the luminous colours or the lustrous gleam of the ivory-toned or the smoky green glaze of the illustrated Chenghua porcelain. Could these pieces possibly constitute some of the fabled lost treasures of Emperor Chenghua? The author leaves it to the reader to decide.
Published by Times Editions, Singapore, 2003
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