LONGQUAN CELADON-GLAZED TABLE SCREEN
MING DYNASTY, 15TH-16TH CENTURY
24.7 cm high, 22 cm wide
The rectangular screen and integral stand resemble a framed panel in a simulated carved hardwood stand. One side of the screen is moulded in relief with a large qilin, depicted with a scaly body and thin legs, its dragon-like head turned toward the moon and ruyi-shaped clouds. The reverse side is incised delicately with two fishing boats in a riverscape below two moulded characters reading Li Yi. The screen is covered with a lustrous bluish green glaze. The undersides of the two feet are unglazed, showing the partly orange-brown fired stoneware. The firing cracks in the base are filled with gold lacquer repairs bearing a fine cloud design.
Roger Keverne, London
Roger Keverne, Winter Exhibition, London, 2013, cat. no. 24
Table screens were necessary on the scholar’s desk to protect the ink on an inkstone from wind or direct sunlight. The present screen, with its heavy weight and relatively large size, may have been for use outside as it is less likely to be tipped over by the wind. The characters Li Yi, translated ‘Propriety and Righteousness’, are two of the core values in Confucianism.
This table screen seems closely related to a dated example, also with a moulded qilin, in the Percival David Collection, published by Margaret Medley, in the Illustrated Catalogue of Celadon Wares, 1977, pl. XI, no. 103. The reverse side of the Percival David screen is incised with an inscription dating it to 1492, the fifth year of the Hongzhi period.
Another similar example, described as fifteenth century, is published by Manuele Scagliola, Louisa E. Mengoni and Rose Kerr, in East Asian Ceramics, The Laura Collection, 2012, pl. 51.
The qilin on the present table screen also can be compared to a qilin in the center of a heavily potted dish illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Volume 3 (II), 2006, pl. 1581.