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    Sale 2622

    Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    3 December 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 2603

    A MAGNIFICENT AND EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL WHITE JADE 'ZODIAC ANIMAL' MARRIAGE BOWL AND COVER

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A MAGNIFICENT AND EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL WHITE JADE 'ZODIAC ANIMAL' MARRIAGE BOWL AND COVER
    QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-1795)

    The compressed globular body supported on three low animal mask feet, finely carved in deep relief around the sides with four panels depicting the twelve zodiac animals seated within grottos in groups of three or four, each holding their respective attribute, the rat with a scroll, the tiger with a basket, the rabbit with a fan, the dragon with a pearl, the snake with a forked tongue, the horse with a court fan, the ram with a scroll, the monkey with a cane, the rooster with a yinyang symbol, the dog with a tasselled stick and the pig with an arrow, all divided by four symmetrical bat handles suspending loose rings, the domed cover similarly divided and carved in low relief with four shaped panels bordered by ribbons enclosing double happiness, xi characters, divided by four further bat handles suspending smaller loose rings alternating with four flowerheads below a central elaborate squared lotus flower finial
    8 1/4 in. (21 cm.) wide


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    The depiction of the twelve zodiac figures is an auspicious one signifying the perpetual harmony heaven and earth throughout the stages of re-incarnation. Together with the character for double-happiness, shuangxi, they would have symbolised highly propitious wishes for a wedding.

    The present bowl and cover is extremely rare in many aspects. The only other related white jade bowl and cover similarly decorated with a combination of the twelve zodiac figures around the sides and double xi characters around the cover in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Zhongguo Yuqi Quanji, vol. 6, Hebei meishu chubanshe, 1991, no. 126.

    Despite the importance of astrology in Chinese culture, representations of the twelve zodiac animals and carvings depicting the figures are surprisingly rare, especially in jade. Compare sets of twelve figures carved in the round from the 18th century illustrated in Jadeware (III), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 111; and another set in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated in Investigations and Studies in Jade,i New York, 1906, no. 730. A complete set of the twelve figures from the Alan and Simone Hartman Collection was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, Important Chinese Jades from the Personal Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, 28 November 2006, lot 1416.

    The term 'marriage' bowl appears to be an Anglicism and has no counterpart in Chinese. Although the carefully chosen auspicious designs on these bowls are associated with weddings, this particular form is referred to in Chinese as lian and it would probably have been used as a container for jewellery or other articles. Another example of similar form in the Palace Museum, Beijing carved with two registers of double xi characters alternating with the eight Buddhist emblems is illustrated, op. cit., Hebei meishu chubanshe, 1991, no. 127.

    Provenance

    Charles Nott Ltd, London,April 1937
    E.J.C. Vint


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE VINT FAMILY COLLECTION