A simple Chinese vase made over 800 years ago and unveiled in Hong Kong Monday is expected to fetch HK$60 million (US$7.7 million) when it goes under the hammer next month, Sotheby's said.
The plain octagonal piece, tinted a milky blue, was created during the Southern Song Dynasty -- which ruled southern China from 1127-1279 -- and is just 20 centimetres (eight inches) tall.
Despite its simplicity it represents the most coveted art of the period, Sotheby's said, since it is part of a rare collection crafted for the imperial court, known as "guan yao" or "official ware".
The vase is from the same collection as a Chinese porcelain bowl created at around the same time, which fetched nearly US$27 million at a Sotheby's sale in April 2012. That price was a record for Song Dynasty ceramics.
"This for me epitomises what's most sublime in the Chinese artistic tradition, which is simplicity and naturalness of design, powerful yet understated and unselfconsciously beautiful," Sotheby's director and international specialist for Chinese works of art Julian King told AFP.
Hong Kong has emerged as one of the biggest global auction hubs alongside New York and London, fuelled by China's economic boom and demand from Chinese and other Asian collectors.
A Ming Dynasty wine cup broke the world auction record for Chinese porcelain in 2014, selling for US$36.05 million in Hong Kong.
The Southern Song Dynasty vase is part of Sotheby's Hong Kong Chinese Works of Art spring sale, which starts on April 7.