• Fine Chinese Ceramics and Work auction at Christies

    Sale 7762

    Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    3 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 257

    A LARGE CELADON JADE FIGURE OF A QILIN

    EARLY 18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A LARGE CELADON JADE FIGURE OF A QILIN
    EARLY 18TH CENTURY
    The recumbent mythical beast carved with its head turning over its shoulder towards its back, detailed with protruding eyes, broad nose, its mouth exhaling smoke twirling in spirals with emerging ruyi-head clouds on which rests a bundle of books tied with a ribbon, its horns also tied with a small ribbon, the celadon stone with minor snowy and russet inclusions
    7¼ in. (18.4 cm.) long, wood stand


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    The qilin is a very auspicious mythical creature said to live for a thousand years, to be the noblest of all animals, and therefore to represent goodness. It is said to have the head of a dragon, the antlers of a stag, the body of a horse, and the hooves of an ox. The appearance of a qilin was said to have been the sign of a virtuous ruler. The depiction of a qilin with a book refers to the legend of the birth of Confucius, according to which a qilin arrived bearing books announcing that he was a descendant of the water spirit, and a king without crown in the declining Zhou dynasty.

    A jade carving of a qilin bearing books in the Palace Museum Collection, Beijing, is illustrated in Jadeware (III), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 114, pl. 94. Other stylistically very similar jade carvings of qilin include a winged example sold at Christie's Paris, 14 June 2006, lot 150, and a qilin grasping a peony branch sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27 May 2008, lot 1945.

    The theme is also represented on a doucai dish in the Palace Museum Collection, Beijing, illustrated in Kangxi, Qianlong, Yongzheng, Hong Kong, 1989, p. 206, no. 35.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Purchased from William Clayton Ltd., London, on 7 February 1979.