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    Sale 2610

    Important Chinese Rhinoceros Horn Carvings from the Songzhutang Collection

    27 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1729

    AN UNUSUAL UNDECORATED RHINOCEROS HORN LIBATION CUP, NAIHEBEI

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN UNUSUAL UNDECORATED RHINOCEROS HORN LIBATION CUP, NAIHEBEI
    MING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY

    The exterior exquisitely contoured in the original form of the short Sumatran rhinoceros horn and left undecorated to display the outstanding natural beauty of the material, the fibrous texture ranging in colour from a warm golden honey tone around the base rising to a blackish-brown at the tip
    4 in. (11.1 cm.) across, wood stand, box
    Weight: 6.8 oz. (195 gm.)


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    Previously sold at Sotheby's New York, 2 February 1982, lot 944.

    It was more usual for rhinoceros horn cups to have been carved with designs rather than to have been left plain with the original shape of the horn retained, as with the present cup. For several other cups of this latter type see T. Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, nos. 50, 60, and 64 (unhollowed).
    This type of cup derives its name naihebei, 'helpless cup', from the fact it is unable to stand on its base and therefore must be placed upside down. If a guest was offered wine in such a cup, they had to finish the wine before they could put the cup down.

    Another plain cup in the British Museum of Art acquired from the collection of Sir Hans Sloane in 1753 is illustrated by S. Jenyns, "The Chinese Rhinoceros and Chinese Carvings in Rhinoceros Horn", TOCS, vol. 29, 1954-1955, pl. 24A, fig. 1. See, also, the plain 'full-tip' cup in the Chester Beatty Library, illustrated by J. Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p. 70. no. 37. Compare also a plain cup sold at Christie's New York, 19 September 2007, lot 4.

    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.


    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this lot was not previously sold at Sotheby's New York as stated in the catalogue notes.


    Literature

    T. Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 104, no.56
    J.Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p.87, pl.no 64


    Exhibited

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