An ancient Chinese wine glass of more than 200 years could fetch up to HK$5 million at Bonhams’ upcoming auction – “Ganbei: A Toast to the Chinese Wine Culture”, a themed auction showcasing more than 40 pieces of Chinese works of art connected to drinking and wine culture over the past 3,000 years.
The imperial white jade archaistic ‘Phoenix’ vessel from Qianlong period (1735-1796) is estimated to fetch HK$3 million-5 million on November 30 in Hong Kong, according to Bonhams. Another high-value item on offer is a massive archaic bronze vessel and cover from Spring and Autumn Period (770BC to 476 BC), which could go for as much as HK$4 million.
China has a long history of alcohol production and its invention here more than 3000 years ago is accidental: food was soaked with water by accident and with time, alcohol was naturally produced. Consuming the alcoholic food sent our earliest predecessors to a state of tipsiness like nothing they had ever experienced – they believed it was an otherworldly track to come closer to the divinity.
This may explain why priests are among the earliest group of people who drank wine copiously, before this activity gained popularity among the nobility, the scholar-officials and then the public.
With time, objects related to the drinking culture have also evolved in craftsmanship and function, from the dignified designs for ceremonies to the elaborate style adorned with precious material accessible only to the noblemen, and further on to a boom in artistic expression sought after by the literati. Through Chinese history, wine has gone beyond the material to become an indispensable vehicle connecting the social, the art, the culture and more.
The more than 40 pieces connected to drinking and wine culture over the past 3,000 years span dynasties from Shang, Spring and Autumn, Warring States, Western Han, Tang, to Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing.
All items will be exhibited to the public from November 21-29.