AN IMPORTANT collection of Chinese bronzes and porcelain – including some particularly rare and early pieces – is expected to generate a great deal of interest at Elstob & Elstob’s Fine Art and Antiques Sale on Saturday, April 24.

Central to the 60-strong collection, is a rare bronze ritual wine vessel, dating from the Early Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 -771 BC) which carries a guide price of £100,000 to £150,000; and a rare and important archaic bronze snake lamp from the Warring States/Early Western Han Dynasty valued between £80,000 to £120,000.

Also included in the sale is an exceptionally scarce release of 1952 vintage Chinese Moutai liquor that is set to reach between £6,000 and £7,000.

“We are delighted to be able to offer such a fantastic and well-regarded collection of Chinese antiquities,” said David Elstob, director of the Ripon-based auction house. “As well as these highlighted lots, there are many other extremely fine examples including vases, tiles, dishes, bowls and boxes representing time periods such as the Song, Northern Song, Yuan and Llao Dynasties.

“The Chinese market has been particularly buoyant for some time now and remains one of the ‘hot’ areas for collectors across the globe so we are hoping to achieve top prices at the sale,” he added.

The wine vessel – or zun – is of cylindrical form, rising from a splayed foot ending in a trumpet neck. Standing 31cm high, it is boldly cast around the middle and lower register with four taotie masks, each exhibiting rectangular slit pupils, stylized C-shaped horns and hooked jaws. The upper register at the flared neck is further decorated with four upright blades filled with taotie masks above a band depicting two pairs of kui dragons.

Such vessels were used in ancient Chinese religious ceremonies and typically had a wide lip to facilitate pouring. They were often round or square-shaped and decorated with dragons and other animals.

The archaic bronze snake lamp is thought to date from the Warring States period (475 – 221 BC) or the overlapping Early Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). Standing 52cm high, it depicts a sinuous snake with a body that bends six times as it winds upwards, its jaws engulfing one side of the three-lobed channelled oil tray, whilst its tail coils at the base in perfect counterbalance. The body has lightly cast 'D' shaped scales; the surface covered in a green patina with patches of malachite and cuprite encrustation.

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