|Sipping tea with a 280 million HKD cup|
It is one of 20 such cups remaining in the world. Most of them are in museums with only 3 in private collections. Emperor Chenghua (Ming dynasty) married his care taker (maid in the imperial court) who was 17 years his senior after he succeeded his father as emperor. He made her concubine (Concubine Wan) and loved her a lot. The emperor had a weak personality and most of the time he would seek advice from Concubine Wan on state affairs. As she loved simple things, especially porcelain ware with light glaze and simple décor. The emperor ordered the imperial kiln to make fine porcelains using light glaze and simple designs like chicken (mother hen with some chicks searching for grains on the ground). This chicken cups ad been used by the emperor to drink wine with concubine Wan. Incidentally palace records had shown down the chicken cups were worth hundred thousand qian (ancient Chinese currency) even during the Wanli reign (later part of the Ming dynasty). The chicken cups and other porcelains made during this era is collectively known as the famous Chenghua ware that worth hundreds of millions of dollars in auction markets.
|Less than 20 of chicken cups in the world|
This is how the Chenghua ware was made. The potter would use blue and whit glaze to draw the outline of the drawing on the ware. It was then sent to the kiln to fire the ware at a high temperature of 1200 degrees. Then the potter would use different glaze to fill up the rest of the picture. The fully coloured ware was then fired again at a lower temperature of several hundreds degrees. Hence this type of ware is also called Toucai meaning glazes compete against each other, the outline which was underglazed and the picture which was overglazed.
|Another set of Chenghua cups depicting grapes|