• For the Enjoyment of Scholars: auction at Christies

    Sale 2391

    For the Enjoyment of Scholars: Selections from the Robert H. Blumenfield Collection

    25 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 876

    A FINE AND RARE IMPERIAL BAMBOO VENEER AND IVORY KNIFE AND SHEATH

    18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A FINE AND RARE IMPERIAL BAMBOO VENEER AND IVORY KNIFE AND SHEATH
    18TH CENTURY
    The handle of the knife and the sheath finely carved through the darker veneer to the paler veneer ground with archaistic angular scroll designs, with ivory blade and mounts including a long, narrow scraper with gilt-metal boss that slips into an opening in the sheath
    13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm.) long


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    The technique used to carve this elegant bamboo knife and sheath is known as zhuhuang (literally, 'bamboo yellow', but meaning bamboo veneer). The technique involved stripping the interior surface of the bamboo cortex, soaking it and pressing it flat, and then applying it as a veneer to the base material of the object. A second layer was then carved and superimposed over the first layer, thereby creating a design of contrasting colors. It was time-consuming and required extraordinary technical skill. A bamboo and ivory knife and sheath of comparable size and shape executed in this technique with a design of lotus scroll and described as a knife for cutting paper is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - Small Refined Articles of the Study, Shanghai, 2009, no. 171. (Fig.1) See, also, the very similar knife in the collection of Dr. Ip Yee, illustrated by Wang Shixiang and Wan-go Weng, Bamboo Carving of China, China Institute in America, New York, 1983, no. 44, where it is dated Qianlong period.

    Special Notice

    Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.