The Eumorfopoulos Phoenix-Head Ewer Revisited
Peter Lam is the 2021 winner of the R.C. Hills Gold Medal, the most prestigious award granted by the OCS, given to a lifelong scholar who has made a major contribution to the field of Asian art.
In his R.C. Hills lecture Peter Lam will discuss the monumental porcelain ewer (British Museum Acc no: 1936,1012.206), decorated with a finely modelled phoenix-head and a design of crisply carved, punched and combed flowers and leaves inspired by metalwork. This ewer was formerly in the collection of George Eumorfopoulos, a key founder of the OCS and is widely regarded as the finest example of the phoenix-headed vessel type extant so far, but its provenance and date are always debated. The time span proposed ranges from 9th to 11th Centuries, and provenances suggested include Liao territory in the North, Yonghe of Jiangxi, and Xicun of Guangdong. The last one was proposed by the present author in the early 1980’s. Four decades have since passed, it is about time to revisit the piece in view of new discoveries of similar ewers, shards with similar decorative techniques and new textual evidence from E-researches.