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    Sale 2388

    Important Chinese Jades from the Personal Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman Part II

    27 November 2007, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1551

    A RARE MOTTLED SPINACH GREEN, WHITE AND BROWN JADE 'MAKARA' VASE

    Price Realised  

    A RARE MOTTLED SPINACH GREEN, WHITE AND BROWN JADE 'MAKARA' VASE
    QING DYNASTY, 17TH/18TH CENTURY

    Powerfully carved as a mythical fish-like dragon emerging from foaming waves, its mouth agape below a flaming pearl supported on ruyi-shaped clouds, its folded wings partially covering the scaly body either side of a prominent dorsal fin, a further sinuous dragon finely carved curling up the side of the fish with one leg outstretched towards the 'flaming pearl', the stone predominantly of a rich speckled green tone with areas of lighter greyish white and dark brown inclusions used within the carving
    7¼ in. (18.3 cm.) high, stand


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    According to Buddhist legend, the makara was originally a whale that saved the lives of five hundred drowning merchants at sea, and then sacrificed itself by providing its own body for food to feed the victims. Because of its compassion and sacrifice, both important virtues in Buddhist philosophy, the whale was then immortalised and transformed into a makara, characterised by the head of a dragon, the body of a whale with wings and a pearl by its side.

    The subject-matter is visually very similar to that of the carp reaching the upper courses of the Yellow River and leaping up the rapids at Dragon Gate where it transforms into a dragon. This feat is compared to success in the state examinations and the transformation from carp to dragon symbolising promotion to the position of official. This was a popular subject on carved jadeware for its drama and auspicious representations. Compare another jade carving of a markara, also from the Hartman Collection sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 28 November 2006, lot 1425.

    A very similar spinach jade carving, this time of a pair of leaping makara is in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Jadeware (III), Hong Kong, 1995, p. 61, no. 49 (fig.1).

    Provenance

    Sotheby's New York, 11 April 1986, lot 229


    Literature

    Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, no.119


    Exhibited

    Christie's New York, March 13-26, 2001
    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, August 2003 - December 2004