Contributed by Johanes H. Rizal, SEACS member and Vice-President (2018)

A Longquan lotus-leaf bowl, Dimensions: Diameter 12.0cm and height 5.5cm

While I have been a collector for thirty years, I purchased this green bowl in the early stage of building my own Chinese ceramic collection. Like many others, I initially started collecting with little knowledge of Chinese ceramics, making my decisions based purely on my preferences, coupled with dealers’ explanations of the pieces.

Finding Song Dynasty wares beautiful and having trusted the dealer, I bought this lotus-leaf green bowl in Indonesia in 1990. It had a fashioned tortoise design on the centre of its interior and was in good condition. It was only several years later that a friend brought an expert from Taiwan to look at my collection. He had written many books on Chinese ceramics, surveys from the early dynasties until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Back then, a majority of my collection consisted of Chinese export wares.

Casually sitting on the carpeted floor in my art room, I showed him the lotus-leaf bowl. He examined it quickly before roughly tossing it onto the carpet, exclaiming that it was a fake. I proceeded to show him the rest of my collection, but just had to ask about the green bowl one more time before he made his departure. He claimed that it was in too good a condition to be genuine. Disappointed and thinking that I must have been cheated by the dealer, I considered this lesson or ‘school fee’ part and parcel of my collector’s journey and continued to build my collection.

This changed six years ago when an expert from China, a professor who has done extensive research on green wares in Zhejiang Province, especially Longquan ware, conducted lectures on this subject in Singapore. He appreciated and praised the very same bowl upon seeing it. With 37 years of study on Longquan wares behind him, he shared that my lotus-leaf bowl was the nicest piece of its kind he had ever encountered. The professor congratulated me for possessing this piece and advised me to keep this beautiful bowl in a special box.

As a collector, the important factors that I personally identify with would be the Chinese ceramic’s authenticity, originality, rarity, condition and its beauty. It is quite an impossible task to choose just one favourite piece out of my collection. After all, each one was bought due to my attraction to its beauty in its own different way.