From a 2,700-year-old bronze nomad’s dagger to a touching ink drawing of a young woman and her cat — 10 gems that won’t break the bank, offered during Asian Art Week in New York
This bronze feline-form weight would have been used to hold down the voluminous sleeve of a traditional robe, or as a paperweight. It has a heaviness that makes it really satisfying to hold in your hand, as does the softly rounded form of the cat’s body. Estimated at $2,000-3,000, it has great provenance, coming to Christie’s from The Falk Collection of Chinese art.
This bronze dagger is well over two thousand years old, dating from the 7th-6th century BC. Despite its age, it remains in fantastic condition; the handle is intricately inlaid, and demonstrates the skill of the people who made it, in the region now referred to as Inner Mongolia. As nomads, they carried their wealth on their person, and the richest individuals would have owned everyday objects rich with embellishment. This dagger is both a luxury item and a tool for self-defence, and would have been worn in the owner’s belt.
While aspects of Hu Yongkai’s depictions of women include traditional elements, such as the furniture in this painting, the posture of his subjects, along with their clothing and demeanour, are modern and fresh. The colour and simplicity of this painting — and the affectionate moment between a woman and her cat — create an appealing and emotionally uplifting image.
This fun little piece would have been one of four bronze supports for a miniature table, and is cast in the form of a bear resting on its back legs, its mouth open in a powerful roar. Although it stands at just 2 in (5.1cm) high, it’s a piece with a big personality, and indicates the popularity of bear designs during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), when this work was made.
Made during the late Eastern Zhou-Han Dynasty (3rd-1st century BC), this jade slide would have been fitted around a sword or dagger. It’s a beautiful piece: the jade would have been green originally, but the ageing process has transformed it into an attractive ivory colour. Although it is very small — measuring just an inch and a half, or nearly 4 centimetres, in length — the carving on it remains precise and sharp to this day. At the time this work was made, jade would have been more valuable than gold, silver or bronze.
This curved belt hook would have been used to fasten a garment, and features a hook, cast in the form of a dragon’s head, which would have functioned much like a button on a pair of jeans. Cast in bronze, each of its sides is inlaid with silver and, remarkably, glass beads that have remained intact since it was made, between 475 BC and 8 AD, a period referred to as the Warring States-Western Han Dynasty.
This beautiful ornament dates from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and depicts a bird of prey, its head turned to the side. Both the front and the back of the object are covered with rich carvings. This might have been worn by a woman, in her hair, or as part of a hat. A channel carved behind the folded legs and feet on the reverse of the piece, which is just 1⅝ in (4.2 cm) high, forms an attachment loop.
This porcelain snuff bottle (shown front and back, above) is a small treasure. Its form resembles that of a purse or a wallet from the Qing Dynasty, which would have been used for carrying money. Presenting an object such as this as a gift would symbolise your desire for the recipient to accumulate wealth. Each side prominently features a mythical beast, a bixie and a tianlu, which were believed to ward off evil and prevent wealth from dissipating.
Estimated at $4,000-6,000, this exquisitely painted hanging scroll is taken from our 14 March Fine Chinese Paintings sale, and features fine, detailed brushwork. The artist has depicted a scholar walking through a windy landscape, his attention caught by the sound of two birds — creating a scene that evokes a wonderful sense of calm and harmony with nature.
This garment hook features an intricate dragon head hook at one end, and is likely to have been worn by male tribesmen. Here, the animal has been inlaid with beautiful stipples of gold and bands of silver, demonstrating the high level of bronze casting in the Late Warring States Western Han Dynasty during the 3rd century BC.