One side is well carved in deep relief with a scholar riding a donkey beneath the arching, blossoming branch of a prunus tree followed by an attendant holding a prunus branch. The reverse is carved with a lengthy inscription, yi [] kong shan xue/mei hua ban yi kai/xiang shao wu ge shi/he ru shi [] lai (the mountain is clear of snow; many prunus flowers are already in bloom), below confronted archaistic dragons.
2 in. (5.2 cm.) high
Lizzadro Collection, Chicago, Illinois, acquired prior to 1960.

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Lot Essay

The subject of a scholar riding a donkey followed by an attendant holding a prunus branch has been variously interpreted. The scholar may represent the Tang-dynasty scholar, poet and recluse Meng Haoran, who was reputed to have admired prunus blossoms. Another possibility is that the figure represents the fifth-century poet Lu Kai, from the Song State (420-479) of the Southern Dynasties period, who is shown traveling in Jiangnan accompanied by his attendant who carries a branch of prunus blossoms. Lu sends this branch hundreds of miles north to his friend the historian Fan Ye (398-445) in Chang'an with a poem, the last line of which reads, 'I send you merely a branch of spring'.

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