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    Sale 2610

    Important Chinese Rhinoceros Horn Carvings from the Songzhutang Collection

    27 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1710


    Price Realised  


    Superbly carved in various levels of relief around the sides depicting a scene from 'Ode to the Red Cliff' in which the scholarly figures of Su Dongpo, Huang Lujie and the monk Foyin accompanied by boatmen seated in two rafts on a fast-flowing river passing beside a bridge observe the cliff above, all below pine in a rocky landscape, the waves and rockwork continuing to the underside of the cup, the rockwork on the side opposite the handle beneath the pine tree with an inscription reading Yufeng laihu, suishui lailong, the reverse carved a a twenty-eight character poem Chibitu, 'Scene of the Red Cliff' in relief, ending with a square seal mark Zhuang Houzhi yin, the side carved in high relief with stout reticulated pine branches forming the handle, the interior carved in high relief, with a sinuous gui dragon, the material of a light honey tone
    5¼ in. (13.3 cm.) wide, wood stand, box
    Weight: 6.9 oz. (195.2 gm.)

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    Previously sold at Christie's London, 4 December, 1997, lot 399.

    The inscription on the rockwork can be translated as:
    The tiger comes with the wind, the dragon comes with the water

    The poem can be translated as follows:
    The overnight rain in the valley has turned a thousand rocks green,
    A hundred waterfalls and ten thousand trees roar in a chorus.
    This scene should be celebrated by a poem,
    The days spent in the mountains are unforgettable.

    The scene depicted around the sides of the cup and in the poem are taken from the Song dynasty poem entitled 'Latter Ode to the Red Cliff', the second section of the 'Ode to the Red Cliff' in which the three friends re-visit the red cliffs in the winter of 1032. Far from the tranquil scene they had encountered on their first visit, they find themselves swept along by the torrential River Yangtze before stopping to climb the cliff. The scene is a very popular motif in Chinese art depicted in numerous media from the Song dynasty onwards. A number of rhinoceros horn carvings also depict various scenes from the poem including two in the Asian Civilization Museum, Singapore from the Edward and Franklin Chow collections illustrated by J. Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pl. 290 and 345, the latter with the same scene as that on the present cup; and another in the Metropolitan Museum from the J.P. Morgan collection illustrated, ibid., pl. 289.

    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, tortoiseshell and crocodile. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.


    T. Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 184, no.132


    Hong Kong Museum of Art, Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth: Gems of Antiquities Collection in Hong Kong, 2002-2005