The square bowl formed with tapering sides, each facet carved in high relief with two of the Eight Daoist Immortals progressing across a sea of turbulent waves, all below scrolling clouds, the interior rim of the bowl with a central bar connecting two sides, around which coils a sinuous scaly dragon clutching a 'flaming pearl' in its clawed paw, the semi-translucent stone of a pale celadon tone suffused with flecks of russet highlighting the high-relief carving
4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) wide, stand
Roger Keverne (ed.), Jade, London, 1991, p. 152, fig. 60
Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, no. 66
Christie's New York, 13-26 March 2001
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, August 2001 - December 2004

Lot Essay

The most closely related example to the present lot is another jade square bowl with the dragon similarly coiled around a bar across the top, illustrated by James Watt, Chinese Jades from the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum, Washington, 1989, no. 77, where the author explains that these large square cups were sometimes used in the Qing period as libation or offering cups for ceremonial purposes, even if the design and shape made it impractical for drinking. Another square vessel of this form carved with high-relief chilong dragons on the sides and across the top bar is illustrated in Gems of Beijing Cultural Relics Series, Beijing, 1999, pl. 242.

The shape of this bowl owes its inspiration to a well-known group of porcelain vessels dating from the Jiajing and Wanli periods of the Ming dynasty; see, for example, a pair of wucai bowls of square section enamelled with figures around the sides, from the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, illustrated in Imperial Overglaze-Enamelled Wares in the Late Ming Dynasty, Japan, 1995, pl. 5. Likewise, the dragon is executed in Ming style, with a chunky body. Unusually, as opposed to most renditions of a fierce dragon, the present beast has a somewhat satisfied look on its face, as it clutches onto the 'flaming pearl'. The treatment of the Immortals around the exterior sides, however, lend themselves to a more 18th-century style of carving, with exceptionally high relief, meticulous detailing and with a high polish.

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