Double vase or champion vessel

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, ca. 14th-16th centuries
H x W x D: 8.9 x 8.8 x 8.4 cm (3 1/2 x 3 7/16 x 3 5/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Jade, Vessel


bird, China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)

From at least 1963 to 1968
Desmond Gure (1905-1970), London, from at least May 1963 [1]

From 1968 to 1987
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), New York, purchased from Desmond Gure on January 10, 1968 [2]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, gift of Arthur M. Sackler on September 11, 1987 [3]


[1] Gure published the jade in “Some Unusual Early Jades and their Dating,” Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society 1960-61 1961-62 vol. 33 (1963), pp. 56-57, pl. 44a-b, with an annotation that the object was “an heirloom previously owned by members of the German and British Royal Families.” The same year he lent the jade to an exhibition Celadon Jade at the National Museum in Stockholm in 1963, see Celadon Jade: Finds, Specimen, Scientific Results (Stockholm: The National Museum, May – June 1963), cat. 137. See also typed, undated inventory of Desmond Gure’s collection, “List 2 – Objects Exhibited at Stockholm 1963,” no. 191: “A pale greenish white jade vessel formed as two cylinders – 3 9/16 in high,” copy in object file.

[2] According to information provided by Arthur M. Sackler Foundation in October 2009, Arthur M. Sackler purchased the jade as part of Desmond Gure’s jade collection on January 10, 1968. See “Arthur M. Sackler Gift: Chinese Jades: Summary,” where the object is listed under Sackler Collection no. J-1311 and identified as S1987.723.

[3] Pursuant to the agreement between Arthur M. Sackler and the Smithsonian Institution, dated July 28, 1982, legal title of the donated objects was transferred to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on September 11, 1987.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Desmond Gure 1905-1970
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987


This vessel's name, "champion vase," is based on a rebus (visual pun); the two highly schematic creatures that uphold the cylinders are said to resemble a bear and a falcon (although they seldom do). The names of these two animals in Chinese are homonyms for a word meaning "champion."

Published References
  • Bo Gyllensvard. Celadon, Jade: Finds, Specimen, Scientific Results; Exhibition. Exh. cat. Stockholm, May-June 1963. cat. 137.
  • unknown title. no. 36 Stockholm, 1963. pl. 32, 1a, 1b.
  • America's Smithsonian: Celebrating 150 Years. Washington, 1996. p. 83.
  • Jessica Rawson, John Ayers. Chinese Jade Throughout the Ages: An Exhibit. Exh. cat. London. 100, fig. 320.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 83, p. 129.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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