Liao Pin ed., Clocks and Watches of the Qing Dynasty, From the Collection in the Forbidden City, Beijing, 2002.
The present clock is the opposing pair to an example sold Christie's Hong Kong, The Imperial Sale, Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 7 July 2003, lot 589.
Ornately embellished figures of elephants made from various media were found in halls and throne rooms throughout the Imperial palaces. As such, it is not surprising to find an elephant used as decoration on a clock. The imagery of an elephant supporting a vase on its back forms the auspicious rebus, Daping Jingxian or Daping Youxian, conveying the message of peace and harmony. The present soapstone elephant may be compared with a spinach-green jade one, also dating from the 18th Century, standing fours-quare on a French ormolu base, from the Estate of Empress Friedrich, Schloss Friedrichshof, included in the exhibition Chinese Jade, Spink London, 1998, lot 23; with a Qianlong-period celadon jade elephant richly caparisoned with a gilt and enamel-inset harness and saddle supporting a pagoda surmount on its back, offered Christie's Hong Kong , 29 April 2002, lot 532; and with enamel and gilt-bronze examples in the Yangxindian, the Hall of Mental Cultivation, where the Emperor received his officials, illustrated by Yu Zhuoyun, Palaces of the Forbidden City, 1982, pls.78-79.
Elephant clocks in different forms and of English origin may also be seen in the Palace Museum in Beijing. For examples, see Liao Pin ed. op. cit., pp.120-121, pp.132-133 and pp.134-135.