The depiction of the rhinoceros in bronze is very rare, especially during the Tang period. Earlier depictions do exist, however, as evidenced by the late Shang rhinoceros zun in the Avery Brundage Collection, illustrated by d'Argencè, The Ancient Chinese Bronzes, San Francisco, 1966, pl. XIX and another large zun (22 7/8in. long), ornately decorated, but quite realistic in its depiction of a rhinoceros, of late Eastern Zhou/Western Han dynasty date, found in Xingping Xian, Shaanxi province, included in the exhibition, The Great Bronze Age of China, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980, New York, Catalogue, no. 93
By the Tang period the rhinoceros had been extinct in China for about a thousand years, but the image persisted, if rarely, and can be seen as a decorative motif on a pair of silver bowls in the Kempe Collection, illustrated by Bo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, no. 120
A rhinoceros was also one of the large stone animals lining the spirit road of the first Tang emperor, Gao Zu. This large stone sculpture is now in the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, illustrated by Barry Till and Paula Swart in the Catalogue for the exhibition, Images from the Tomb: Chinese Burial Figurines, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1988, p. 98, fig. ix
An almost identical figure of a rhinoceros but with slightly different treatment of the skin, was sold in our New York rooms, 28 March 1996, lot 273.
The result of Oxford thermoluminescence test no. C206g75 is consistent with the dating of this lot
Dr. Pieter Meyer's report states that technical characteristics including the method of manufacture, the type and extent of the corrosion, the surface appearance, the microstructure of the metal and metal-corrosion interface, and the results of thermoluminescence testing are all fully consistent with the suggested date of manufacture.