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QIANLONG (1736-95)

Qianlong (1736-95)
Thinly carved as a hollowed acanthus flower of octafoil oval shape rising from a petal base, the sharp rim with two curling foliate handles, the highly polished, translucent stone of even, slightly mottled pale grey tone with black flecks and a well used pale russet striation
8¾ in. (22 cm.) wide
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium

Lot Essay

This elegant dish is of oval eight-lobed form. The form is probably inspired by vessels in precious metals and fine ceramics shaped like begonia flowers. Begonia-shaped bowls, dishes and boxes were popular in China as early as the Tang dynasty, as evidenced by the large Yue ware begonia-shaped bowl in the Shanghai Museum (illustrated in Zhongguo Taoci Quanji, vol. 14, Yue Ware, Shanghai Renmin Meishu Chubanshe, 1981, no. 135), and by the silver gilt begonia-shaped boxes, which formed part of the imperial gift to the Famensi pagoda (illustrated in famensi, China Shanxi Tourist Publishing House, 1990, p. 129). Mughal jade vessels of this form were made in the Qing dynasty, as shown by the basin in the Palace Museum Beijing (illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - Jadeware III, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 282, no. 234) which bears a Qianlong inscription dated to AD 1772. The Beijing vessel shares with the current bowl handles carved in the form of tight scrolls, however the scrolls on the current dish are smaller and more delicate. Indeed the current dish is generally more delicate, a feature that is increased by the division of the sides into eight lobes rather than the four lobes of begonia-shaped vessels. Larger, more crudely carved scroll handles can be seen on another oval dish, this time with six lobes, in the collection of the National Palace Museum Taipei (illustrated in Catalogue of a Special Exhibition of Hindustan Jade in the National Palace Museum, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1983, pp. 146-7, no. 11). The handles on the current bowl are particularly attractive because they are carved to emerge from leaves rising in low relief on the exterior from the foot of the vessel and are then carved as two joined slender tendrils.

There is an acanthus band carved in low relief around the exterior walls of the dish. This is one of the most popular decorative motifs on 'Mughal' jades and can be seen on a number of the vessels preserved in the palace collections. The fine jade dishes in the National Palace Museum decorated with this design and illustrated in Catalogue of a Special Exhibition of Hindustan Jade in the National Palace Museum, op. cit., include those shown on pp. 136-7, no. 6; pp. 140-1, no. 8; pp. 142-3, no. 9; pp. 144-5, no. 10, and pp. 182-3, no. 29. The foot of the current dish is formed by a particularly well carved four-petalled flower, each petal delicately fluted and with fine detailing of the stamens in the centre of the flower. Indeed this dish is overall an elegant example of fine jade carving.

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