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    Sale 2622

    Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    3 December 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 2601

    AN EXTREMELY RARE GROUP OF SEVEN IMPERIAL CLOISONNE ENAMEL, GILT BRONZE AND WHITE JADE ALTAR EMBLEMS

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN EXTREMELY RARE GROUP OF SEVEN IMPERIAL CLOISONNE ENAMEL, GILT BRONZE AND WHITE JADE ALTAR EMBLEMS
    QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-1795)

    The emblems of columnar form, surmounted by finely carved white jade representations of three of the Seven Treasures, Qizhenbao and four of the Eight Buddhist Emblems, Bajixiang on double lotus-form bases, each supported on a slender column detailed with a baluster form cloisonné enamel mid-section enclosed within a balustraded fence, all raised upon a waisted octagonal base inlaid with rectangular floral cloisonné enamel panels within borders of lappet and keyfret, the central column supported at the base and top with four elaborate pierced foliate brackets
    The tallest 13 1/2 in. (34.2 cm.) high (7)


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    Three of the emblems, the Jewel, the Minister and the General, are part of the Seven Treasures or the Seven Regal Symbols, qizhengbao, which according to the Buddhist Sutra, were brought to earth by the Universal Monarch, the Chakravartin. These emblems are symbolic of the pacifying and protective powers of the Buddha. The Seven Treasures include the Elephant, symbolising sovereignty and great wealth; the Wheel, representing the Buddhist doctrine; the Horse, representing facility in war and transportation; the Wish-Granting Jewel; the Queen who serves as the virtuous wife to the king; the Minister who is responsible for the welfare of the people; and the General who holds authority over the military troops to defend the borders from attack.

    The remaining four emblems, the conch shell, the lotus, the paired fish and the endless knot form part of the Eight Buddhist Emblems, bajixiang. The Eight Buddhist Emblems include: the Wheel of Law (falun), the inexorable expansion of the Buddha's teaching; the Conch Shell (luo), majesty, felicitous journey, the voice of the Buddha; the Umbrella (san), spiritual authority, reverence, purity; the Canopy (gai), royal grace; the Lotus (hua), purity, truthfulness in adversity; the Vase (ping), Eternal harmony, the receptacle of lustral water, the nectar of immortality; the Paired Fish (shuangyu), conjugal happiness, fertility, protection, spiritual liberation; the Endless Knot (panchang), eternity.

    Perhaps the closest example to the current group of emblems is a set of zitan and spinach jade Qixhenbao in the Palace Museum in Beijing, illustrated in Jadeware (III), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1995, pp. 138-139, no. 114. A number of sets of the Seven Treasures were included in A Special Exhibition of Buddhist Gilt Votive Objects, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1995. A set, also carved from spinach jade, is illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 24; compare also nos. 22 and 23 made from gilt-copper; no. 25 of gilt-copper and champleve enamel; and nos. 26 and 27, inlaid with semi-precious stones. An enamelled gilt-copper set was included in the exhibition Buddhist Art from Rehol: Tibetan Buddhist Images and Ritual Objects from the Qing Dynasty Summer Palace at Chengde, Chang Foundation and Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, 1999, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 69.

    It is interesting to find a reference on how the emblems were used. An official Court portrait of Emperor Kangxi in his later years, depicts the elderly monarch holding a string of beads, seated behind at a low table arranged with a complete set of the eight emblems; cf. Court Paintings of the Qing Dynasty of the Collection in the Palace Museum, Beijing, 1992, pl. 14.

    Provenance

    Sir John Buchanan-Jardine, Bt.
    T.B. Kitson Collection, sold at Sotheby's London, 21 Februaury 1961, lot 266


    Saleroom Notice

    - Please note that this is previously sold at Sotheby's London, The T.B. Kitson Collection on 21 February 1961 as lot 268 (not lot 266 as stated in the catalogue).


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE VINT FAMILY COLLECTION


    Exhibited

    London, International Exhibition of Chinese Art, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts, 1935, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 2017