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AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE CELADON JADE RAM-FORM WATER POT
AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE CELADON JADE RAM-FORM WATER POT
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THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE CELADON JADE RAM-FORM WATER POT

WESTERN HAN DYNASTY (206 BC – 9 AD)

Details
AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE CELADON JADE RAM-FORM WATER POT
WESTERN HAN DYNASTY (206 BC – 9 AD)
The vessel is carved in the round as a recumbent mature ram with its right foreleg raised and the others tucked under. It has full-curl horns and pricked ears, with its gaze fixed forward. It is carved with two lug handles, one at the back of its head, and the other on the spine above its rear haunch. The body is well hollowed with a circular opening on its back. It is decorated with fine incisions along its neckline and the contour of its legs. The soft polished stone is of a pale green tone with areas of darker and russet inclusions and calcification.

4 3/8 in. (11 cm.) wide, box
Provenance
Huang Jun (1878–1951), Zunguzhai, Beijing, circa 1935
Emeterio Ruis, Geneva, acquired before 1960
Literature
Huang Jun, Guyu tulu chuji, 1935, juan 4, p. 7 (fig.1)

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Lot Essay

This rare early jade carving is in the form of a recumbent ram, reminiscent and possibly inspired by bronze lamps of the same period, such as the example excavated in the tomb of King Liu Sheng in Mancheng, now in the Hebei Provincial Museum, illustrated in Zhongguo wenwu jinghua dacidian, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 320, no. 1148 (fig. 2). Although it is currently described as a water pot, its actual function remains unclear. The two lugs at the back of the head and on the rear end of the current ram indicates that some form of device or attachment existed originally, possibly in metal, which has now been lost. There is a jade water pot in the form of a recumbent ram dated to the Han period in the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in Jadeware (I), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, vol. 40, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 239, no. 200 (fig. 3). However, scholars suggest that the Palace example was possibly later adapted as a water pot in the Ming period. The current ram carving does not appear to have been later altered, and the hollow on the back appears to be an original feature. It is also possible that this ram was used as a container, perhaps a medicine bottle. A jade container in the form of a winged beast, excavated in Yangzhou and now in the Yangzhou Provincial Museum, illustrated in Zhongguo yuqi quanji (4): Qin, Han – Nanbeichao, Hebei, 1993, p. 181, nos. 251 and 252, was probably used as a medicine container to hold herbal pellets.

The current ram is not only unique in its form but also unusually large in size. The previous cited jade ram measures only 7 cm. long; another jade ram in the Qing court collection dated to the Han Dynasty, illustrated Jadeware (I), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, vol. 40, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 237, no. 198, measures 5 cm. wide.

This jade ram was once in the collection of Huang Jun, one of the most important dealers of archaic jades and bronzes in the early 20th century in Beijing. Many of the jades he handled are now in museum collections around the world, including the well-known Han dynasty jade horse, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

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